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Carolina Story: Virtual Museum of University History

Hygeia's Stream

Circling the pedestrian plaza in front of the main entrance to Tarrson Hall are more than 100 bronze forms inlaid in the concrete, suggesting a flowing stream of fish, eels, amphibians, plants, seaweed, and other forms of aquatic life. Selected by the North Carolina Arts Commissions's Artworks in State Buildings Program, artist Wopo Holup designed the stream of life to evoke healing waters flowing up and down the steps of UNC's School of Dentistry. At the base of the doorway is a bronze medallion depicting Hygeia, the Greek goddess of health; at the other end of the plaza, a stylized figure of Hygeia offers a bowl of water to a snake, symbolizing humanity’s responsibility to help others. Dentists on the selection committee were pleased with the work's allusion to "hygiene" and also appreciated the visual pun of bronze inlays in a white surface. Holup's aquatic-themed artwork can also be seen on the walls of seven NYC Metropolitan Transport Stations and along the Hudson River Battery Seawall, where she designed a series of unique railing panels.