What the heck is that?

There is artwork around our campus shrouded in mystery. What is that sword thing? Who made the Native-American man in the glass box? What’s that cannon-shaped sculpture in the courtyard? These are questions that will be answered in this new series of articles, “What the Heck is That?” Questions and recommendations are welcome, please send them to

Jutting from the ground between the C-Building and the La-Z-Boy Center is a rusty, lone spike-looking sculpture that stands nearly 15 feet tall.

Interpretations of the piece vary; the mystery was further amplified considering there is not a plaque present to identify either the sculpture or its creator.

“I think it is a finger or a sword,” said MCCC sophomore Phill Borawski, as he stood looking up at the object.

When MCCC student Jessica Werstein, was asked what she thought the piece resembled, she tilted her head and studied the sculpture.

“I kind of think it looks like an Indian arrow head,” she said after a moment of thought.

Penny Dorcey-Naber, administrative assistant to the dean of Humanities/Social Sciences, calls the object the “Fickle Finger of Fate.”

“I think it looks like one of Freddy Krueger’s fingers!” she said while looking down from her second-floor office window in C-Building, which overlooks the sculpture.

Several faculty members and MCCC support staff were asked if they knew what the artwork was or who had crafted it. Most had their own interpretation of the piece while not knowing  who the artist is.

Gary Wilson, associate professor of art, had the answers.

“It’s the sharp part of a hammer used for ice climbing,” said Wilson.

“A guy named Ken Thompson made it. He takes ordinary objects and makes a sculptural interpretation of it,” he said.

Wilson also explained the piece came to MCCC through its Visiting Artist Series, an art exhibit that features artwork off all kinds of forms.

The  sculpture is called  “Idanha Iceaxe.” It first showed up on MCCC’s campus  in 1998, said Ken Thompson’s Website.

When Thompson was contacted about the piece, he shared its concept.

“It gets people’s attention,” he said, “makes them study the aesthetics of the tool itself rather than its purpose.”

Thompson also said he thinks tool crafting is an art form too often ignored.
“It’s lost in our current day and age,” he said.
Thompson explained the sculpture was created around 1995, and  later found its way onto MCCC’s campus.

He said it is made from Cor-Ten steel, designed to weather and age to give a rusted, used look — like the 12-inch ice axe head he found in Oregon, which served as his inspiration.

Thompson also noted the ice axe is one of his smaller and lighter pieces, since he normally crafts art out of different types of stone.

“But it is just the size it needs to be,” he said, then explained art doesn’t have a set size.

Thompson has earned a number of awards over the last few decades for his artwork.

Most recently he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Toledo Federation of Art Societies and the 2009 Ohio Fine Arts Competition Sculpture Award from the Ella Sharp Museum of Art and History.

He has artwork presented throughout the country including Sienna Heights University, University of Toledo, Toledo School for the Arts, and the Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, Detroit.