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Do you know about the Oreo?

  • Posted by: Daniella Snyder
  • Posted Date: March 27, 2019
  • Filed Under: Library News

I’m Daniella Snyder, a first-year graduate student at Villanova University, and your newest ‘Cat in Falvey Library’s Stacks. I’ll be posting about academics– from research to study habits and everything in between– and how the Falvey Library can play a large role in your success here on campus!

You walk by “The Oreo” each and every day, but how much do you really know about Awakening, the modern sculpture on Villanova’s campus?  This week, I thought I could answer some questions about this funky focal point.


Source: Flickr.

What is Awakening, and who made it?

Awakening is a large, abstract, black and white stone sculpture located on the plaza in front of Dougherty Hall. The artist Jay Dugan (b. 1944) placed three white pylons (or towers, of sorts) next to a 12-foot tall black disk. The centerpiece of the sculpture– the black disk– features two circular openings. The white pylons frame (or sandwich?) the central disk. Dugan created Awakening with black marble from North Africa and white travertine marble from Italy.

Dugan is known for his large, simple, abstract sculptures made out of heavy, rare, and intricate stone. Alongside his apprentice John Fitzgerald, the two men have created and donated large sculptures to universities for over 20 years. In exchange for the sculptures, the artists ask the universities to provide academic scholarships for students.

Does this look familiar? It should! This is Knowledge Ascending, the sculpture Dugan  donated to Lehigh University in 1987.


Why is it named Awakening?

Dugan said, “I chose the subject of an ‘Awakening’ for the University because a school is an environment where the students are learning and awakening to limitless conditions and fragments of knowledge” (Villanovan, March 26, 1988, p. 6).

He continued: “What you try to do in an abstract sculpture is relate your ideas to the geometric shapes and allow them to represent your feelings. My purpose in creating it was to give a new dimension to the lives of Villanova students (Villanovan, Sept. 9, 1988, p.7).

Dugan said that he worked more than five hundred hours and over eight months in his studio in Italy to create Awakening.


How much does Awakening weigh?

28 tons (56,000 pounds)!


When did Villanova get Awakening?

Jay Dugan donated “Awakening” to Villanova in 1985. The University held a public dedication ceremony on May 5, 1985, outside the Connelly Center. The Villanova University Art Gallery hosted an exhibition of Dugan’s works.


Many thanks to Alice Bampton (now happily in retirement!) for her research on Awakening in a 2013 blog post. 

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Last Modified: March 27, 2019

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