Work of the Week: Man

Written by: Emily Sabens, Public Relations Intern

It’s often said that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

However, no one takes that mantra as seriously as artist Leo Sewell.

Sewell grew up near a dump. He would often find pieces of trash and take them back to his home, playing and experimenting with the objects.

This childhood pastime would later turn into his career.

For the past 50 years, Sewell has made sculptures out of various pieces of “junk.” He searches the streets of Philadelphia, where he lives, looking for interesting objects he can incorporate into his artwork. In his workshop, he currently holds more than 100,000 unique objects, from corn holders to gold-plated shark teeth.

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Sewell’s works are featured in numerous institutions across the country – including a stegosaurus at the American Visionary Art Museum, a duck at the Fuller Craft Museum and even a 12-foot-tall dinosaur at the one and only Garbage Museum. His art was even featured on the show “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.”

Here at the David Owsley Museum of Art, you can see one of Sewell’s amazing works for yourself. “Man,” created around 1970, is comprised of a variety of carefully selected objects. Mass media images, children’s toys and scraps of metal all come together to form an anatomically correct man.


“Man” is considered to be part of the 1960s Pop Art movement, which used media and everyday objects to reflect the 20th century rise in consumer culture.

Plan a visit to DOMA to see one of Sewell’s innovative works for yourself. “Man” is located upstairs in the Ball Brothers Foundation Gallery.

Work of the Week: City Life

Written by: Taylor Henderson, Exhibition Design Intern

In the following week Black History Month will be ending in the U.S., U.K. and Canada. Perhaps you and your friends have either done something this month to show solidarity or learned something new about African-American culture and iconic figures. Even going to see “Black Panther” in theaters helps by supporting representation of African-Americans in the film industry. But if you’re looking for even more for your mind to chew on, DOMA can help.

Joseph Delaney. City Life, 1938. Oil on canvas. 21.38 x 14.38 inches. David Owsley Museum of Art. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Harper. 2010.021.003

The featured painting this month was “City Life” by Joseph Delaney. Delaney was born in 1904 in Knoxville, Tennessee. During the years of the Great Depression, Delaney made his way to New York City where he established himself as an artist. He is most known for his scenes depicting the Harlem Renaissance.

“City Life” is one such work. The artwork, painted in 1938, depicts a pedestrian street scene at New York’s famous Times Square. It shows both the vibrancy of urban life and an intermingling of different peoples. The Harlem Renaissance (during the time also referred to as the New Negro Movement) was also a pivotal time for black people in America, and New York City was its mecca. Delaney captured this zeitgeist using a new artistic originality, which led to his almost immediate recognition as an esteemed artist.

In 1986, Joseph Delaney returned to Tennessee to become an artist-in-residence at the University of Tennessee, where he lived until his death in 1991. His art has been shown at The Art Institute of Chicago, Knoxville Museum of Art, Museum of the City of New York, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and of course the David Owsley Museum of Art (among others).

As with many artists it’s an honor to display their work, and it is no exception with Delaney. The museum encourages you to take the time and visit City Life before the month ends.


Delaney, Joseph. City Life. 1938, David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana. Staff. “Harlem Renaissance.”, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.

“Joseph Delaney.” David Owsley Museum of Art Collection, University Libraries Digital Media Repository,

“Joseph Delaney (Artist).” Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia, Wikipedia Foundation, Inc., 30 Nov. 2017, 13:02,

Work of the Week: Stele of Shiva as Bhairava

By: Emily Sabens, Public Relations Intern

In Hinduism, there are three main gods. The first is Brahma, who is the creator of the universe. Second is Vishnu, who protects and preserves the globe. And the third is Shiva, whose role is to destroy the world in order to recreate it.

While Shiva’s actions may sound paradoxical, Hindus say this destruction is constructive. They believe Shiva’s ability to demolish then rebuild is used to destroy all of the imperfections in the world.

Shiva is both good and evil, according to the Hindus. He does good in the world; but he can also become angry and transform into Bhairava, his angry manifestation.

Unidentified artist. Stele of Shiva as Bhairava, 1200–1299. Metabasalt. 52 3/8 x 26 x 10 inches. David Owsley Museum of Art. Gift of David T. Owsley. 1986.039.003

“Stele of Shiva as Bhairava” shows Shiva as his alter ego, Bhairava. This sculpture depicts a time when Shiva was angry with Brahma—so he decided to cut off one of Brahma’s five heads (which you can see in Bhairava’s left hand).

The god holds a variety of items in his hands. A trident. A sword. A bow. A knife. A drum. A scourge. While this assortment of items may seem random, they all are associated with war. His dog also accompanies him, but this isn’t your typical pup. Rather his canine scavenges for human remains in crematories.

While Bhairava is depicted nude, he does wear some accessories. A garland of skulls hangs around his neck. His headdress, too, is crafted of skulls as well as snakes.

Bhairava seems to be extremely frightening and intimidating in this sculpture. Despite this, the figure appears attractive and even seductive, posing in the tribhanga pose—a body stance often used in Indian sculptures to indicate grace and enticement.

Visit the David Owsley Museum of Art today to see “Stele of Shiva as Bhairava,” located downstairs in the Frank and Rosemary Ball Gallery.

National Love Your Pet Day

By: Emily Sabens, Public Relations Intern

Today is National Love Your Pet Day. According to the American Pet Products Association, 68 percent of households across the U.S. own a pet. At the David Owsley Museum of Art, we have many works of art that feature everything from Fido to felines.

1. Dog

Unidentified Craftsman, Pre-Columbian. Dog, 99 BCE-250 CE. Earthenware and slip. David Owsley Museum of Art. Gift of the Alconda-Owsley Foundation. 1989.020.003

Dogs are faithful, outgoing and let’s face it, adorable – which is why they are one of the most popular pets in the U.S. Scientists say canines have been man’s best friend for thousands of years.

“Dog” was made around 99 BCE to 250 CE. Although created centuries ago, the sculpture depicts a pup who appears like the dogs we see today – ears poised, an open mouth that could be taken as a smile and bright, open eyes.

This sculpture is known as a canine effigy figure, which are often found in Colima tombs. Scholars aren’t sure what exactly these dogs represent. Many believe these sculptures represent the entombed person’s pet, guiding its owner to the afterlife. (Others scholars think dogs were forced fed for consumption during ritual ceremonies – but since it’s National Love Your Pet Day, let’s go with the first choice.)

2. Feline Effigy Metate with Mano

Unidentified Artist, Pre-Columbian (Costa Rica, Nicoya Region). Feline Effigy Metate with Mano, 300-699. Carved rhyolitic volcanic stone with inlaid shell. David Owsley Museum of Art. Part of the David T. Owsley Collection. L1992.018.002a-b

Americans own more than 94 million cats. While they may not always be as social as dogs, felines are inquisitive, playful and super cute.

While “Feline Effagy Metate with Mano” doesn’t depict the cuddly and curious creature we know today, it does represent a jaguar, an ancestor to the domesticated cat. This piece was made around 300-699 by an unidentified Pre-Columbian artist.

3. Horse

Unidentified Artist, Chinese (Han Dynasty). Horse, 206 BCE-9 CE. Formed, fired and painted terracotta. David Owsley Museum of Art. Gift of David T. Owsley. 2013.019.085a-b

Horses and humans have formed special relationships for years. Domesticated by Asian nomads around 4,000 years ago, horses served as a way to travel for many societies before the invention of the engine.

Today, though, horses still play an important role to over 2 million people.

We have many works at DOMA that feature horses—including “Horse,” made by an unidentified artist during the Chinese Han Dynasty.

4. Covered Tripod Bird Vessel

Unidentified Artist, Pre-Columbian (Mexico, Maya culture). Covered Tripod Bird Vessel, 250-900. Formed and fired glazed earthenware. David Owsley Museum of Art. Part of the David T. Owsley Collection. L2012.007.002 a-b

While not the most popular pet choice, many people choose a bird for its intelligence, low-maintenance and, in some cases, its ability to hold a conversation with you.

“Covered Tripod Bird Vessel” was created between 250 and 900 by an unidentified Pre-Columbian artist and was lent to the museum by David Owsley.