Sculpture of Professor Duane H. R. Roller
“Authority versus Inquiry”
Joe Kenney sculpted a standing figure of Professor Duane Roller installed in a niche on the southeast
corner of Bizzell Memorial Library, University of Oklahoma, Norman in July 2006. Dr. Roller was the
first Curator and Professor of the History of Science Collection. Kenney sculpted Professor Roller
holding an exact reduction to scale of Galileo’s personal copy of the book for which he was tried and
convicted for heresy.
Galileo’s personal copy of Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems is at the University of Oklahoma in
the History of Science Collection. The book in the hands of the sculpture of Professor Roller is a symbol
of an historic battle against authority oppressing freedom of intellectual inquiry.
The book in the hands of the statue of Professor Roller is a 0.428 reduction of Galileo’s personal copy of
Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems published at Florence in 1632. Joe Kenney selected to sculpt
Galileo’s book to express the significance of intellectual inquiry over authority.
In the history of science and culture, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) stands as a symbol of the battle against
authority oppressing freedom of intellectual inquiry. Galileo was summoned to Rome by the Inquisition
to stand trial for “grave suspicion of heresy” for his adherence to the writings of Copernicus, De
revolutionibus, published in 1543. Copernicus proposed the solar system to be much as it is known today
that the earth and other planets revolve about stationery sun. In 1633, Galileo was sentenced to life
imprisonment that was swiftly commuted to permanent house arrest. The Dialogue on the Two Chief
World Systems was prohibited and the sentence against him was to be read aloud in every university,
court and in other places.
The sculpture is 37-inches in height and cast in polymer.
Joe Kenney Sculpture Studio