Cities & People

The Law Quad’s Legal Gargoyles

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Kara and I attended a local meetup/photowalk in Ann Arbor. It was fun to meet some other local photographers and discuss tips and techniques.
Another great part of going with a group is that we all had a different eye for those parts of town that many of us see every day. We were able to learn to expand the way to see things and try techniques we had not previously thought to do.
My example here is the discovery of the gargoyles carved into the corbels of the northwest entrance to the University of Michigan’s law quad. These little beasts are well above head height and exist in the area where your eyes are adjusting from daylight to the quad’s interior. I’ve been here dozens of times, but always have been drawn to the grander architecture inside the courtyard and so passed by these little guys without noticing.
These little figures (and there are more at the other entrances that I’ll write about later) were added in the as part of the medieval architecture of the building and were installed in 1924. The meaning of each is not truly clear, and even the original architect was a little vague about what each of these four represented. I’ve done a little research and have been able to give the best guess at the meaning of each figure.

These photos have been slightly processed using Topaz Impression’s fresco effect.  I wanted to give them a little bit of a book cover look. I really like the way the explorer figure came out and I will be heading back to the university to find more of these little gems.

[more about theses and the other gargoyles can be found in the book “The Uses of Art: Medieval Metaphor in the Michigan Law Quadrangle” Pages 56-57  (PDF)]



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