The Columns

“Free Spirit” Sculpture Graces Campus Green

— by on September 22nd, 2015

The kinetic outdoor sculpture “Free Spirit,” by Drew Klotz, a nationally recognized creator of wind sculptures, has been donated to Washington and Lee University by the parents of Kelsey Durkin, the student who died in a December 2013 automobile accident not far from the campus.

Laura and Jay Durkin, of New Canaan, Connecticut, commissioned the wind-activated sculpture in memory of their daughter for display in the new campus green linking Graham-Lees and Gaines halls across West Washington Street.

The sculpture was delivered and installed Sept. 18 in the under-construction campus green, which will be completed in time for Parents and Family Weekend, Oct. 2.

Soon after the accident that took Kelsey Durkin’s life and injured 10 other students driving back from an off-campus party, the Durkins approached the university about donating a sculpture by Klotz, whose Connecticut studio is located near their home. They felt that the aluminum and stainless steel rings of the statue evoke wristbands worn by students after the accident as part of the Promise for Kelsey campaign.

Sidney Evans, W&L’s vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said the movement of the piece is “engaging and captivating, much like Kelsey, who was actively involved in campus life. It serves as a reminder of her spirit, her laughter and her character. The sculpture’s location on the campus green, the center of the first-year neighborhood, recalls Kelsey’s heart for working with first-year students.” Durkin led pre-orientation Volunteer Venture trips for three years and served as a Rho Gamma, a sorority recruitment counselor for first-year women.