The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday June 1st

Remembering 'Crouching Spider,' UNC's favorite arachnid

The spider statue pictured on July 29, 2021.
Buy Photos The spider statue pictured on July 29, 2021.

The spider on East Cameron Avenue was considerably bigger than those that dwell in the South Campus dormitories. And it’s probably the only spider in UNC's history whose company students enjoyed.

As this beloved arachnid leaves campus, the community remembers its legacy. 

Crouching Spider — an art piece by the late Louise Bourgeois — was installed on campus in August 2018. Bourgeois is widely considered to be one of the most influential female artists of the 20th century. Artist Kanye West adapted a painting by Bourgeois for the cover of his 10th studio album, "Donda."

The sculpture, which Bourgeois previously said is a tribute to her mother, is nine feet tall and 27 feet wide, made of bronze and stainless steel. It was originally intended to be on display for one year, but stayed for three. It was removed from campus on Aug. 3, along with Eye Benches I, another project by Bourgeois.

The sculptures' placement on campus was arranged by the Arts Everywhere initiative, which announced the sculptures’ departure in July via social media. It received much commentary from students, faculty and community members.

“Love it or hate it, poking fun at it or taking it really seriously, those conversations are part of what great art can do,” said Kathryn Wagner, the associate director of Arts Everywhere. 

Crouching Spider and Eye Benches I will both be returned to Bourgeois' Easton Foundation. Both art pieces have been on display in various locations since their creation in the 1990s.

Crouching Spider was the subject of many conversations and jokes on campus as students and faculty often passed it on their way to class. 

“I think putting art like that kind of throws people out of their comfort zone — and in a way that could be a good thing,” junior Laura Barcenas said.

In many ways, Crouching Spider marks a specific era of the student experience. Most current students have never known campus without it.

“It was a symbol of Phillips Hall," junior Shawn Matthews said. "It was weird and strange, but it embodied that area of campus. We have a whole bunch of old traditions like the Bell Tower that signify Carolina, but the spider was just out there. It was different.”

Many UNC traditions have been shared by thousands of students across generations, but Crouching Spider holds a unique place — an art piece prominent in the experiences of many recent students and faculty members.

And though the Crouching Spider is leaving us, its memory will live long after in the hearts of students who enjoyed and mocked it alike.


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