Adam on the Road

February 23, 2016 • Posted in Blog


Adam Creating Himself by Karen Swenholt.

By D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A.
Executive Director

When our children were small, I read to them the story of Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown. Stanley is an unfortunate boy who suffers an accident and becomes two-dimensional. Because of his shape, he is able to have adventures that normal, three-dimensional children cannot have, like being folded and mailed to a place far away.

Unlike Flat Stanley, Adam is three-dimensional, made of resin, and cannot be mailed easily or cheaply. But he is off on an adventure nonetheless. In fact, Adam has just begun his adventures on the road.

This sculpture, by Karen Swenholt, is a recent acquisition of The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture. Figurative artist Swenholt had this to say about the piece:

When I turned a corner at the art studio and saw all the slabs of recycled clay stacked up by the potters, I laughed because I flashed on the idea of Adam atop them pulling himself together. Then I built the image. Today’s educated human embraces the concept that he/she is a cosmic accident, but even that concept has the tincture of self-creation.

One may wonder what a sculpture with a head not unlike Abraham Lincoln, a neck, two shoulders, one arm, a hand, and one misshapen leg can teach college or university students. Actually, Adam can teach quite a lot — especially in the company of other ideas.

Right: Adam in the Union University Library, Jackson, TN.

Imagine seeing Adam before you attend your American literature class, where you are reading “Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, or on your way to an upper-level issues in science class, where the subject of the day is three-parent embryos.

Perhaps you have just been learning about pre-implantation genetic diagnosis in your genetics class, and then you pass by Adam on your way to lunch. Maybe you are discussing eugenics and WWII in 20th Century history class, and the professor mentions Adam. These are all fair game for learning experiences on campuses that welcome Adam.

Union University in Jackson, TN, is the first campus to welcome Adam. In fact, Adam is scheduled to spend the Spring Semester there before he is transferred to another institution. If you are interested in learning more about hosting Adam on a college or university campus, you may contact us here.