Mystery Solved

The creator of the “History Mystery” (Around the Bald Spot, page 3, fall) was my Carleton roommate, Eric Rasmussen, better known as Raz. I remember him telling me all about it.

Sean Soltysik ’84
Boylston, Massachusetts

Editor’s Note: We contacted Eric Rasmussen ’80, who sent this response:

Yes, I did the tortoise mosaic in the sidewalk next to Gould Library. I started out in the Class of 1980 but didn’t graduate until 1983. In the spring of 1983 I noticed that a large slab of sidewalk near the Music Hall had just been poured. I drew a circle in the wet cement, reproducing an image used to publicize a Circle of Concern vigil on the anniversary of Hiroshima. (I had participated in the vigil while I was studying Chinese one summer at U.C.–Berkeley; in my dorm room

I still had an event flyer with an image of an empty brush-and-ink circle and the word vigil beneath it.) After I got back to my room I decided to go back to the wet sidewalk and add the word vigil. Bad idea! Security caught me admiring my work. I thought it looked great—minimal, yet powerful. Unfortunately, the dean did not agree and emptied my bursar’s account to pay for a new slab.

Unhappy about losing my last bit of spending money, I decided to do an end run around the administration. I prepared a proposal and approached the architect in charge of the library renovation, which was under way at that point. The architect liked my idea and chose the location for my proposed mosaic. The turtle motif was inspired in part by Gary Snyder’s 1974 book Turtle Island and his use of that traditional Native American term for the North American continent. I used stones taken from the Cannon River. It may be difficult to see after all these years, but the center of the turtle’s shell is a compass to orient those who stop and look at it.

Although I did not become a professional artist, I attended Yale’s History of Art graduate program. I’ve worked in the Department of Asian Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and taught at Colby College in Maine. I currently live in Connecticut, where I am working on a series of books about Chinese art.

Eric “Raz” Rasmussen ’80
Norwalk, Connecticut

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