These newly discovered unfired clay tiles by Higgins are preliminary clay studies for the final outdoor terra cotta garden fountain that became her MFA thesis at CU. The five tiles show the use of visual narrative and a simplified style being worked out. The subject of the tiles and the final work was The Life of St. Francis of Assisi, who was canonized in 1228 and is the patron saint of animals and the environment. The final installed garden fountain displays fired unglazed terra cotta tiles with the same composition as these studies but with more refined sculpting of the relief. At some point during the process of developing her thesis, plaster molds were made of the tiles. Higgins made several terra cotta versions for display in interior spaces.
The final thesis project was installed in the spring of 1955 and is still on display on the exterior of Salve Regina Hall on campus. While the sculpture has been in the elements for over a half a century and shows some wear, it speaks to the durability of terra cotta as a sculptural medium.
To view any of these objects in more detail, click on the thumbnail below.