Title: Unfinished Tiger
Creator: Henry DiSpirito
Medium: pink granite
The story of Henry DiSpirito's Unfinished Tiger is also a story of his enduring relationship with Utica College. DiSpirito was Artist-in-Residence at the college from 1963 through 1995. After his retirement from stonemasonry, the residency provided him with his first opportunity to focus full-time on his art. He took the role very seriously and became a treasured member of the college community.
In 1971 he noticed a pink granite boulder left over from a construction project. He immediately saw a tiger in it: he often expressed that his carving simply released that which was already in the stone. Administrators agreed and moved it near the dorms where he could carve it. He always shared his process openly with students, and this was no exception. He welcomed the conversation and even participation of students who passed by. Some of them asked him to make it a panther instead of a tiger.
When some members of the administration heard, they wanted to make sure that the sculpture would not be associated with the revolutionary Black Panther movement. DiSpirito stopped work immediately and refused to comment, avoiding controversy. The sculpture remained hidden under some trees on campus for 15 years. However, in the late 1980s the sculpture was moved to a prime location on the library lawn across from the rose garden, honoring his long relationship with the college.
Inscription: "TIGER (unfinished) / by / HENRY DISPIRITO / 1971 / Gift to Utica College by artist" on metal plaque on stone on ground near sculpture
Subject: Public art, Tiger, DiSpirito, Henry, 1898-1995, Outdoor sculpture
Rights: This work is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1977 and without a copyright notice.
Find out more:
Hopkins-Benton, Ashley. Breathing Life into Stone: The Sculpture of Henry DiSpirito. 1st ed. Cooperstown, N.Y: Fenimore Art Museum, 2013. Print. p. 71-2.
Location: Utica College, Champlin Avenue, Utica, by Deperno Hall