Filed Under Art

Argonaut III, 1979

Artist Edward McCullough (1934- ) created this sculpture made of welded and painted cor-ten steel. The 11' x 24' piece is displayed on the North side of the Agricultural Engineering Sciences building. It was acquired through the Illinois "Percent for Art" program.

Illinois-born Edward McCullough, deeply impressed by four years of sea duty with the United States Navy, wrote that he related this piece to the ancient Greek story of Jason and his heroic shipmates, the Argonauts, that it forged a link between the land and the ocean he had come to know. "From the beginning stages of building Argonaut III I thought of it as a mythological ship at sea on the Illinois prairie. During winter storms in the North Atlantic ships can barely be seen-a jutting bow may appear, followed by a disappearing superstructure, then nothing until another glimpse (another abstract image of a ship) is visible against the heaving mass of water. So it is with this sculpture during winter storms in Illinois; and, throughout the seasons its forms imply movement into and out of the land."

McCullough uses standard welding and fabricating processes for his works in steel, a medium he finds compatible with his forms and the need for flexibility and strength. In this 24 foot-long piece, painted a cherry red consonant with the Agricultural Engineering Sciences Building's exposed stairwells, six tenuously balanced, inclined slabs ofCor-ten steel rest on a concrete base, creating interesting patterns of light and shade.

The sculptor has taught at Illinois Wesleyan University and held an appointment as artist-in-residence at Augustana College. Examples of his work are in the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, Des Moines, Iowa; Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois; University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City; Southern lllinois University at Edwardsville; and Augustana Hospital, Chicago.

Text from Muriel Scheinman's 'A Guide to Art at the University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign, Robert Allerton Park, and Chicago'


general view of Argonaut III, facing the ACES Library Image courtesy ExploreCU team
general view of Argonaut III Image courtesy ExploreCU team
general view of Argonaut III Image courtesy ExploreCU


1304 West Pennsylvania Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801


Muriel Scheinman, “Argonaut III, 1979,” ExploreCU, accessed June 30, 2022,