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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 10, 2007

Bronze, water sculpture graces C. Maxwell Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory

The sound of flowing water once again fills the lobby of the C. Maxwell Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory at the University of Iowa.

"Free Flow," a bronze and water sculpture by Iowa City artist Shirley Wyrick, was recently installed in the lobby of the historic building that rises above the Iowa River near the intersection of Burlington Street and Riverside Drive. The sculpture's three S-shaped bronze reliefs depict a variety of images illustrating the vast reach and breadth of fundamental hydroscience research, practical application, and education over the nearly 90-year history of IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering.

Housing one of this country's oldest and preeminent hydraulics labs, IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, the Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory was once home to flumes, pumps, and other equipment for dozens of fluids-related experiments.

Completely remodeled in 2001, the building now contains offices for IIHR faculty, staff and students. Only a state-of-the-art towing tank for the study of ship hydrodynamics remains in use in the facility. The institute's many other fluids-related experiments are now located in seven other facilities in the Iowa City/Coralville area. Visitors to Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory are now reminded of the building's rich past when they first enter the building and experience "Free Flow."

"I found it challenging to create the work and to try to capture some of the breadth and scope of hydraulic research, education and application that has been accomplished by this preeminent institute, as well as to create an artwork that symbolizes ongoing investigation into the mysteries of fluid movement," Wyrick says. 

"Free Flow" is the result of a two-year collaboration involving the artist, a former and the current IIHR director (V.C. Patel and Larry Weber, respectively), and many other IIHR staff members. "IIHR's well-placed attention to details, from critical reviews of my drawings for the reliefs to the modeling of the water feature, strengthened the outcome and helped me to vastly improve my original concept," stated Wyrick.

"Free Flow" imagery includes swirling vortices, erratic turbulence and cavitation (the formation of partial vacuums in a liquid, as in the air bubbles formed in water by a ship's propeller) at the top of the three bronze reliefs symbolizing major ongoing challenges in hydraulics. The middle of each has images related to IIHR education, research and engineering applications. At the bottom are images that portray elements fundamental to the development of hydroscience and of IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering.

Wyrick is a longtime resident of Iowa City and has worked as an artist since the early 1980s. She has designed sculptures for the Levitt Center for University Advancement, Iowa City; the State Historical Building, Des Moines; and the Johnson County Administration Building, Iowa City. Wyrick's sculptures and drawings are also found in museums and public collections locally, nationally and internationally. Many of her works focus on river themes.

"Free Flow" may be viewed in the entrance lobby to the C. Maxwell Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory at 300 S. Riverside Drive, Iowa City. The building is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Carmen M. Langel, IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, 319-335-5841,; Gary Galluzzo, University News Services, 319-384-0009,