Graduate Theological Union LibraryGraduate Theological Union Library

Doug Adams: His Life and Work

Winged Figure, GTU Library

Art - Stephen De Staebler

The Winged Figure at the center of the library was dedicated on September 18, 1993, at the 30th anniversary of the GTU and the inauguration of the fifth president, Glenn R. Bucher. Doug Adams closed the ceremony with these words.

Dedication Prayer

Stephen De Staebler's sculpture embodies incompleteness (one leg, a partial torso, one arm...) an incompleteness which allows us to remember that we are incomplete. Such remembrance evokes empathy for others. Let our experience of this sculpture WINGED FIGURE increase our empathy for others.

His sculpture does not detail the head for he has learned that we too easily focus on the head and neglect the body. His sculpture draws our attention to our connection to the earth. Let this sculpture increase our care for the body and the earth.

Stephen's work is frontal and evokes a commitment akin to conversation at a dinner table where we face others at length in contrast to cocktail part chatter where we stand at oblique angles to others and avoid engagement. Let this sculpture increase our commitment with others.

The concave wing provides space and suggests a transformation into an as yet unknown form. There is room for our new thoughts and the different thoughts of others who may dream new dreams. Let this sculpture increase our thoughts and faiths and hopes and dreams unseen.


The Winged Figure

Originally, the atrium of the library was empty. Richard Peters, the architect who completed the building, had considered at one point a "pendant piece" to hang down in the atrium and play on the theme of light. In 1978, unsolicited, De Staebler had prepared a site plan model to be incorporated at the entrance of the library. This was not realized. However, he remained in close contact with Jane Dillenberger and Adams. In early 1993, De Staebler felt that the piece he was working on was for the library. He offered to donate the sculpture to the library. The GTU board accepted after a vigorous discussion. Adams with The Center for the Arts, Religion and Education (CARE) arranged to cover the $60,000 cost of the installation: the sculpture sits on a 24 foot bronze covered plinth with an additional six feet embedded in the bedrock below.

Below are before and after pictures of the library's atrium, as well as images documenting the installation of the sculpture by Stephen De Staebler. These photos are from the GTU's art exhibit collection and from Jane Dillenberger's slide collection. The photographer for the installation pictures is Scott McCue.

arts journal

Space For Faiths

Doug Adams held a conference in 1997 and invited professors from a variety of disciplines to write a brief essay on The Winged Figure. Planned as a book, Space for Faiths: Stephen De Staebler's Winged Figure was published at the end of 2010 in arts: Arts in Religious and Theological Studies.

Diane Apostolos-Cappadona completed the project. The Center for the Arts, Religion and Education (CARE) provided financial support for the publication (it's over a hundred pages). Copies are available for view in the library.