Iowa State University, College of Veterinary Medicine - CODAworx

Iowa State University, College of Veterinary Medicine

Submitted by Tom Stancliffe

Client: Iowa State University

Location: Ames, IA, United States

Completion date: 2021

Artwork budget: $25,000

Project Team


Tom Stancliffe

Stancliffe Sculpture

Client program director

Lynette Pohlman

Iowa State University, Art on Campus Collection


Aquatic themed lobby in College of Veterinary Medicine.

The artwork consists of four “portholes” made primarily of metal spanning 60′ of the lobby wall and provide windows into an imaginary world. A tapered horizontal rail interconnects the portholes and illuminated “corals” grow along its length. Imagery of aquatic life created by etching, patinating, and burnishing the surface of the metal fill the porthole windows.


This lobby has long been informally referred to as the "Fish Tank Lobby". The art selection committee desired an artwork that would both activate the 80' length of the space and honor that identity. My intent with artwork is to expand the perception of what the “Fish Tank Lobby” is, both as place and in the imagination. The location for the artwork is a wall that encloses a voluminous auditorium and I thought it would be interesting to reimagine that space within as a vast aquarium. There is intentional ambiguity as to whether we are peering into their world or perhaps they are peering into to ours, opening the door to other possibilities as well, and leading me to the title: May Help You.


Collaboration was necessary both with the architects of the lobby renovation as well as the selection committee. Those conversations were important to insure that the space and artwork were structurally, functionally and aesthetically compatible given the flexible uses the space would need to accommodate.