Monday, May 13, 2024
A photo of Stanley Museum of Art student employees working on painting a giant Herky statue in various colors: black, red, white, blue, yellow, and green.

Herky On Parade is one of the largest public art installations in the area. Started in 2004 (and repeated in 2014 and 2024), Herky On Parade is a cooperative effort between the University of Iowa Department of Athletics, the cities of Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, Solon, and Tiffin, Think Iowa City, and Iowa City Area Sports Commission. Each of this year's 100 Herky the Hawk statues were sponsored by various organizations and designed and painted by regional and local artists. 

As one of this year's Herky on Parade sponsors, the Stanley Museum of Art tasked six of our student employees with designing and painting a Herky statue. We involved our students in this creative endeavor as a way of showcasing the immense talent, creativity, and hard work they bring to our institution and celebrating their perspectives on art and its transformative powers.

Brightly colored geometric shapes that appear to reference flags and military symbols. The number 4 and letter E can be seen in upper right corner.
Marsden Hartley, E, 1915, oil on canvas, 50 1/4 x 50 1/4 x 2 1/4 in. (127.64 x 127.64 x 5.72 cm), Mark Ranney Memorial Fund, 1958.1

The students were in agreement about wanting to paint the Herky to match an iconic work from the Stanley's collections. They wanted to be sure they chose one that students were likely to see continuously throughout the years as they visit the museum; so they investigated paintings, which, unlike works on paper or textiles, do not have to rotate on and off display as frequently. Ultimately, they were inspired by Marsden Hartley's "E," due to its simple yet striking colors and composition. The student employees spent one week painting "Herk-E" in three-hour-long spurts, supervised by both the Stanley's Assistant Curator of Student Engagement, Allie Tokarski, and the Stanley's Communications & Marketing Coordinator, Mahvish Farid. Fittingly, the work took place in the workshop section of the old Museum of Art building on Riverside Drive. 

On Wednesday, May 1, 2024, all 100 Herkys were unveiled at 10 am, as the monthly siren tests went off. The Stanley's Herky, which sits on the Nancy B. and Craig N. Willis plaza in front of the museum, was unveiled in front of an audience of Stanley staff, student employees, friends, family, and community members. All of the Herky's, including the Stanley's, will remain on parade until August, at which point select Herkys will be auctioned off to support a fund for art education and programs in the Iowa City and Clear Creek Amana school districts. 

Learn more about the students involved and the Herky-painting process below. Then, visit the official Herky on Parade website for information about the other 99 Herkys that are on display across Johnson County! 


Meet our student artists

A photo of Alexis Belme

Alexis Belme

BA Social Justice and Certificate in Museum Studies '24

Gallery Host August 2022 - December 2022; Gallery Host Lead December 2022 - June 2024; Campus Engagement Coordinator June 2023 - May 2024

"Working on the Herk-E project was so much fun and really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I am not the most artistic person, but I wanted to be a part of this project to connect with Iowa City and the university before I left. I didn't realize how therapeutic and relaxing it would be, but it was really so calming, and a nice brain break between classes. I really hope that Herk-E goes to a good home and I hope to go see it whenever I am back in town. "



A photo of Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith

BA Communication Studies, Writing Certificate '26

Gallery Host November 2022 - present

"I had never worked on a project like painting a six-foot-tall mascot statue in my life, so when I signed up to help I was nervous about doing my best. But it turned out to be a fun time and a pretty unique experience! Seeing my coworkers outside the museum was honestly very sweet, because we had all decided to try to work together on this very unusual canvas. Now I can point to this big bird man outside the Stanley and say, I helped do that. I helped make this cool, weird thing happen. That's just a great little college story that I get to tell."



a photo of Melanie, smiling and posing in front of a glass display case of ceramics.

Melanie Landsittel

MA in Library Science '26

Learning & Engagement Graduate Assistant 2023 - 2026; Gallery Host Summer 2024

"I think it's great that the museum decided to employ the creativity of students working here to come together and do this Herky project. There are always so many fun projects going on here and I'm so happy to be working at this institution. This project was a great experience to learn more about my fellow student workers here at the museum and I really enjoyed it."





Abbie McLaren

Carter White

Jessie Meiers


A photo of Abbie McLaren


A photo of Carter White


A photo of Jessie Meiers



Watch a video about "Herk-E"