SFSU Magazine Fall/Winter '04 Campus Beat: Wishbone Makes a Break From Campus


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Campus Beat LogoArtist Lori Kay leans against the “Broken Wishbone” sculpture on campus, just south of the student center

Wishbone Makes a Break from Campus

For the past 10 years, students have rubbed the "Broken Wishbone" sculpture for good luck on finals and stood beside it for graduation photos. On loan from Bay Area artist Lori Kay, the wishbone will soon be moved from campus to the I. Wolk Sculpture Gallery at Napa's Auberge du Soleil hotel. A replacement installation will be considered after the expansion of the nearby J. Paul Leonard Library is complete.

Kay, an award-winning sculptor and mixed media artist, grew up with the tradition of breaking wishbones and is now passing it on to her 3-year-old twin daughters. The inspiration for her signature piece, however, runs much deeper.

In October, she shared the influence her parents have had on her life and artwork with students in Professor Wei Ming Dariotis's "Asian Americans of Mixed Heritage" class. Like the wishbone, Kay revealed that she has long felt pulled in two directions.

Kay's mother was a Southern belle, her father, a native of the Philippines. In the early 1960s, biracial marriage was prohibited by state law in Virginia, where Kay's mother lived. The couple was able to marry in Washington, D.C., and later moved to California. Kay remembers painful encounters with people who assumed that, because she looked nothing like her mother, she was an adopted child.

Her artwork helped her explore issues surrounding her identity, to understand it and accept it. "I never want to be something different than what I am, but it took me a long time to get to that place," she says.

Professor Dariotis has enjoyed having the sculpture on campus. "‘Broken Wishbone' has so much symbolic resonance for me as a person of mixed heritage," she says. "I relate to the struggle to not be torn apart in my identity.… In many ways, [Kay's] artwork is the perfect piece for SFSU -- it represents the possibilities of the doorway, the struggle to negotiate sometimes competing identities -- these are things all of the members of our campus community can relate to."

Kay invested $10,000 in materials and nine months of time to create the wishbone. The centuries-old lost-wax process proved difficult and time-consuming, but, she jokes, "it was more fun than carrying twins."