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UC Davis Magazine

Volume 24 · Number 4 · Summer 2007

troubled minds illustration

Plopper Lab Eggheads by Susie Nishio took second place in the non-student category. The judges report that her entry was ìthe only submission that got a laugh from everyone who saw it. Perfect use of collage.î Nishio has been a staff research associate working in Charles Plopperís veterinary medicine laboratory for over 25 years.

Photo Egg-cellence

A photo contest goes over easy.

Ceramic genius Robert Arneson’s spirit is alive and laughing at UC Davis. It’s apparent in some of the 100 photos submitted for a campus Hatch a Photo contest held winter quarter to draw attention to his Egghead sculptures. The contest challenged students and other community members to create a photo that featured the Eggheads; entries were judged on originality, innovation and humor.

“Bob Arneson believed that art should interact with everyday life,” observed official Egghead mother hen Renny Pritikin, director of the Nelson Art Gallery and Fine Arts Collection. The Nelson holds 70 drawings and ceramic sculptures created by the popular UC Davis art professor and is also responsible for the Eggheads. “[Arneson] wanted art that regular people would understand and enjoy. Maybe that’s why the Eggheads are the most photographed objects on campus.”

A member of the UC Davis art faculty from 1962 until his death in 1992, Arneson was commissioned to create works for the campus in 1989 by the UC Davis Art in Public Places work group. The Eggheads have since become popular campus icons.

The eminently photographable sculptures proved inspirational for the many contestants, who included students, staff, faculty—and quite a number of alumni. One was John Aaron, who selected UC Davis as his school of choice in the early 1970s after seeing a photo of Arneson’s Typewriter in a magazine and came here to study with Arneson in ceramics studio TB9. For the contest, he drove from his home in the Bay Area to Davis and created Portrait of the Artist in the Shadow of the Egghead.

“The Egghead Series is a tremendous treasure for the campus to have,” Aaron wrote. “Taking my picture with an Egghead was my way of reconnecting to Bob when I moved back to Northern California this past fall.”

Another group of alumni submitted a photo that is part of a long tradition for them: Each year at Picnic Day the group asks a willing passerby to take a shot of them in front of Bookhead at Shields.

“We were a tight group that lived in the UC Davis Webster Hall,” wrote Sherisse Ho about their submission, UC Davis Picnic Day. “After graduating, we all went separate ways . . . returned to our hometown, to pursue our career, start a family, etc. Every year for more than
10 years, UC Davis Picnic Day brought us together again for a reunion.

“After the parade, we would take a group photo at this same Egghead. We hope to keep this tradition for many more years to come.”

You can read more about Robert Arneson, browse through the contest entries or check out an Egghead walking tour for
the next time you come to campus here.


Susanne Rockwell ‘74, M.A. ‘95, is the University Communication Web editor at UC Davis.