A Hymn to Achievement
The same event of which I wrote in my prior blog entry generated more than just one media article, apparently. In the Summer 1973 issue of the Purdue Alumnus magazine, there appeared an extensive article about astronaut Eugene Cernan’s speech and its subject matter, as well as an additional photograph depicting my presentation to Cernan of a painting by my father.
MASSIMO GIORGINI, son of Prof. Aldo Giorgini, Civil Engineering School, presents an enamel painting to Capt. Cernan. Prof. Giorgini, who painted the large mural in the CE building, also painted the enamel for Cernan. In the background is a member of the Quarterdeck Society, NROTC honorary, and Gloria Peterson, a graduate student.
The caption above, which appeared alongside the photograph in the aforementioned publication makes mention of “the large mural in the CE building” painted by my father. The name of the work was Hymn to Achievement, and was a work done on commission for the Civil Engineering building on the Purdue University campus in order to commemorate the technological advances due to research in academic areas – as witnessed in engineering itself, for instance. The mural was unveiled coincident to one of the speeches by Cernan, entitled “Technology and Man’s Future.” However, far from being a mere glorification of the marvels of scientific breakthroughs, the mural also represented the awesome negative side of this same “progress” by displaying an image of a mushroom cloud, an animal skeleton, and a dying soldier vis-a-vis images representing religion, philosophy, and modern architectural structures.
Although some of the members of the committee that commissioned the work were contrary to the less than laudatory representation of modernization depicted therein, the agreement signed by my father included a provision for artistic license and interpretation, and thus the mural had to be accepted as painted. Furthermore, my father argued that a reminder of the importance of considering both sides of such equations was especially suitable to a speech regarding technology during a memorial conference to two men killed precisely by their interaction with a product of scientific progress.