OXFORD – An abstract sculpture given to the University of Mississippi Museum honors both the museum’s retired director and a professor who has touched dementia patients and their caregivers for a quarter-century.
Dr. Wilbrod St. Amand, professor emeritus of biology at Ole Miss, donated “Bardo of Rose,” sculpted by Memphis artist Roy Tamboli. Albert Sperath, who retired June 30 as museum director, helped anchor the steel-and-glass creation on its permanent site on the museum grounds on his last day on the job.
“Having this piece installed on my last day here is my crowning achievement. What a perfect end to my time as director,” Sperath said.
Tamboli created the sculpture to symbolize the artist’s mother and her experiences in caring for his father until his death from Alzheimer’s disease.
“‘Bardo’ is a Buddhist term literally meaning ‘in-between,'” Tamboli said. “The ring in the piece represents the circle of life. The break in the ring speaks of the gap in relationships created by the disease itself and the patient’s loss of memory.
“The gap is bridged by coils representing the dedication and devotion of the patient’s caregiver. The twisted coil near the top symbolizes the stress and trauma of living with someone who has Alzheimer’s,” Tamboli added. “Finally, the glass globe at the very top represents the pearl of joy found in the surrender of acceptance.”
St. Amand, a charter member of the Oxford-based Alzheimer’s caregivers support group, lost his wife, sister and mother-in-law to Alzheimer’s. He met Tamboli and the artist’s mother more than a decade ago when they began attending the Oxford-based group.
“I’m very, very pleased with the sculpture’s location, because it means that anyone coming into the museum is going to go right around it,” St. Amand said. “There will be some folks who will read of the symbolism and come to see it – maybe not even getting out of their car – and shed a tear or two.”
The placement especially honors Dr. JoAnn O’Quin, Ole Miss professor of social work, who has led the support group for 25 years.
“I wanted it to be here because of Dr. O’Quin and her support group,” Tamboli said. “She always loved this sculpture. Therefore, I think this was the most appropriate place for it to live, where she and others can enjoy it.”
The museum is located at University Avenue and 5th Street in Oxford. For more information, call (662) 915-7073 or visit http://www.olemiss.edu/museum.
Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal