“Rio” Helps Bring Recognition to Famous Colorado College Alum

The addition of the new East Campus apartments is an exciting development to the campus that students eagerly awaited for the past year. While the residents love the common area built along with the apartments, many students and faculty members have had questions about the mysterious brass dog statue situated under the stairs. The statue fairly realistically depicts a beagle-type dog that greets students as they come into the main space to play foosball or study.

Photo by Taylor Elwood

While the statue itself resides in the Hybl Community Center, the nearby Goodacre House was named after its creator, Colorado College alumnus and world-renowned sculptor Glenna Goodacre. While the older Western Ridge Apartments are named after mountains and geological landmarks, each East Campus building is named after an individual with some significance to the school.

Goodacre graduated from CC in 1961, where she focused her studies on painting and zoology, aspiring to become a medical illustrator after graduating.  However, after a friend encouraged her to explore sculpting, she quickly found her calling and rose to international fame.  She is best known for creating the depiction of Sacagawea that we see on golden dollar coins.  “Five blocks south of campus on the corner of Boulder and Cascade, there’s a statue of five kids that she also did,” said Zak Kroger, CC’s special projects coordinator. After rising to fame in the art world, Goodacre was invited back to CC as 1994’s commencement speaker, delivering a speech entitled “Success is the Best Revenge.”

While CC places heavy emphasis on alumni who’ve succeeded in writing, medicine, science, and other similar fields, they often fail to recognize the notable artists that the college has produced. During Goodacre’s studies at CC, an art professor discouraged her from pursuing sculpture, stating that she “couldn’t see in 3-D,” according to a 2008 interview with the Albuquerque Journal. The title of her commencement speech drew on the fact that she persevered and gained international acclaim, despite not being supported by faculty members.  During the address, she encouraged the graduates to pursue their passions, regardless of peers or superiors who attempt to hold them back.

The statue, whose official name is “Rio,” was acquired for the college by Dean Edmonds, who excitedly announced it to Kroger after deciding that the new area of campus needed some decor to “add more interest” to the common area. When he was able to find a work of art crafted by the eponym of one of the new buildings, it seemed like the perfect fit: “We wanted something unique, and if we’re going to name a building after someone, it makes sense to have something that she made.” Members of the administration hope that the statue may help link the name of the house with Goodacre’s extensive accomplishments and with her contributions to both the art community and to CC.

Many students have reacted to the dog, most initially with confusion over where it came from and how it ended up there.  Matt Edwards, Residential Life Coordinator of the area, said that “the overall reaction has been that everyone really likes it.” According to Kroger, the most frequent statement by students is simply, “I saw it, and tried to take it,” in tradition with the common student pastime of acquiring signs from around campus as residential decor. Edmonds was one step ahead of them, ensuring that the dog was securely bolted to the ground before opening the new apartments. Now that everyone has realized that “Rio” is in his permanent new home, the charming, welcoming statue has already become a familiar fixture in the newest part of campus.

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