Austin Peay State University (APSU)
Clarksville, TN – In 1986, communities across the state honored Tennessee’s cultural heritage during then-Governor Lamar Alexander’s year long Homecoming ’86 celebration. In Clarksville, officials at Austin Peay State University participated in the event by commissioning Dr. James Diehr, professor of ceramics and sculpture, to produce a piece for the University’s front lawn.
More than 30 years later, Diehr’s tin and concrete sculpture, “The Gateway,” remains an iconic part of the campus, but few people know its name or history.
At 5:00pm on Thursday, November 1st, 2018 the retired APSU professor will return to the quadrangle in front of the APSU Browning Building for the unveiling of a new plaque honoring his work. The event is free and open to the public, with a reception at 5:30pm in the APSU Art + Design Building.
Diehr incorporated several important symbols in “The Gateway.” Books at the base of the sculpture represent a storehouse of knowledge, and the crucible at the top embodies a liberal arts and science education. The ladders exemplify how students rise with education.
A person stands at the center of the statue, cut from a bell that represents learning and liberty. Depending on the viewer’s orientation, the person is a freshman facing APSU or a graduate leaving, degree in hand.
During the reception, set to begin at 5:30pm, the Austin Peay State University Department of Art + Design will open a new display of Diehr’s work on the building’s Jim and Dottie Mann Wall of Legacy.