Kresge Library

Saints and Sinners

  Saints and Sinners 

Sculpture by Marshall Fredericks

Oakland University Library Mall
Rochester, Michigan

Background Information
Saints and Sinners find a home, by Kathy Parrish
Saints and Sinners: the story of their acquisition, by Jeffrey Haight.
Minutes from the Meeting Authorizing the Purchase of the "Saints and Sinners" Sculptures
Letter from former Oakland University President Donald O'Dowd
Seven Saints and Sinners
Sketches of Proposed Sites for the Sculptures

Background Information

Ground Breaking:   April 19, 1976  [1]

Dedication:  September 9, 1976  [2]

Cost:  $63,505.39  [3],  $68,000 [4]

Funding:  Received $100,000 from Josephine S.Gordon Foundation of   Detroit to commission sculpture.
                 Money for the project was to come from capital outlay funds, the Irene C. Wellock trust, and
                 the University's President Club, a group of individuals supporting the institution and its programs. [5]

Consultant:   Johnson, Johnson and Ray, Inc.  303 North Main St., Ann Arbor, MI  48104 [6]

Construction:   Wyden Construction, Inc. P.O. Box 1111, Southgate, MI  48195  [6]

Square Footage:      25 x 50 foot oval, 7 bronze pieces, each 9' 6" high  [8]

Sculptor:   Marshall Fredericks of Royal Oak  [9]

Photograph:    [10],[11],[12]

History:      Craig Redfern, member of   Commuter Council staged a contest for students to nickname the fountain. [13]



1,8,9 - Oakland Sail, March 24, 1976
2 - Oakland Sail, Aug. 27, 1976
3,6,7 - Campus Facilities and Operations Office
10 - Oakland Sail, Jan. 16, 1978
11 - Oakland Sail, Feb. 5, 1979
12 - Oakland Sail, Aug. 25, 1980
13 - Oakland Sail, Sept. 22, 1976

"Saints and Sinners' find a home," by Kathy Parrish. From:  In-Touch: a publication for Oakland University Alumni. January, 1977, p. 1,4

For 30 years, whenever he wasn't working on a commission, sculptor Marshall Fredericks turned his attention to seven "special" figures tucked away in his studio   Now standing in a fountain-pool outside Oakland University"s Kresge Library, the slender "Saints and Sinners" were true labors of love.   "I just wanted to do them," recalls the world-renowned sculptor, whose other works include the massive Spirit of Detroit and Indian River Crucifix.

Oakland's first major exterior sculpture, "Saints and Sinners" was dedicated Oct. 22.  The $100,000 sculpture was given by the Josephine E. Gordon Foundation.  The setting was provided by the Irene C. Wellock Trust and Oakland University Foundation.

Totally different from the large awe-inspiring pieces Fredericks is known for, Oakland's sculpture is a lighthearted look at saints and sinners.   Fredericks grins slyly when describing the 10-foot bronze figures.   To him they represent good, evil, temptation, knowledge of good and evil, a saint of the church, a mother and child, and a warrior saint.   Fredericks made small models of the sculpture shortly after World War II.  He wanted to do them bigger "but the occasion never arose."   Sometimes they would sit for months, but he always went back to them.   "They were really rather special with me, " explained the Illinois native now based in Royal Oak, Michigan. "I liked the idea of making them tall and thin like columns - almost like trees."

"And there was the fun of comparing saints and sinners and letting people guess why one sinner is this way and another that way.  I tried to put humor in the faces and gestures."  Also fascinated by the sculpture was Fredericks's doctor, Warren Cooksey of Troy.  He arranged for its Oakland home.

Fredericks is "thrilled" with the new location of "Saints and Sinners."   The "figures are youthful - something students can relate to," explained the proud grandfather whose prime interest in art has been to reach young people and appeal to them.    "They can be harsh critics. But by being interested they make you feel so good."  His university commissions include several pieces at the University of Michigan.   He also feels it's important for a campus to have art -and humor.    "Put that money into the general fund and it would be gone in a week. Here it will last forever," he explained.    "But I couldn't see some struggling theoretical thing everyone is frightened and depressed by."

"And I think Oakland is a wonderful place," he added.   "It's a tremendous asset to the community and out in a place where it can grow without a lot of the problems of an urban area."  Fredericks, who says he has probably done more large public works than any other U.S. sculptor, has no "real favorite.  It's sort of like your children. Each has a different meaning to you," he said.  "Some of the works mean more because they were a greater challenge, required greater concentration and effort than others."

His pleasure comes from taking an idea and seeing it "develop into a positive complete thing from nothing. I worry about artists who don't have the joy of making something themselves; they let a company have the joy.  Everything I've done I've made every inch myself - and that's where I've gotten the pleasure - in doing something because you really love to see it done.  And to the best of your ability."

Fredericks who jokingly withholds his age saying only that he's "old enough to vote absentee ballot," still works six and a half days a week.   Among his awards are the American Institute of Architects' Fine Arts Medal and a gold medal from the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters.

Saints and Sinners
The story of their acquisition by Oakland University
by Jeffrey M. Haight 
November 12, 1985 


To those individuals whose cooperation and assistance was of great value in the research of "Saints and Sinners."

Marshall Fredericks
B.J. Griffin
Marion Bunt
George Karas
John B. Cameron
W. Patrick Strauss
Robert G. Gaylor

The critical advice of these people made this a much better study than it originally was.

Photo published by: Ruth Graham, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI

As students scamper off to class in their quest for knowledge, their paths lead them past the sculpture in front of Kresge Library. With little time to spare, they have but a brief moment or two in which they cast a glance at the figures as if showing them a form of deference. Yet students do find the time to eventually stop and view the sculptures with a curious eye, hoping to unlock their meaning.  The fact that they have intrigued so many would please those responsible for obtaining them since it was
their belief that the sculpture would be well received by the students now and in the years to come. The sculpture entitled "Saints and Sinners" was obtained to provide the students with an appealing form of art which they could appreciate, while enhancing the picturesque landscape of the campus.

The "Saints and Sinners" sculpture, which is located on Kresge Library's  western entrance, is the creation of world-renowned sculptor Marshall Fredericks. Fredericks, who studied under Carl Milles in Stockholm and later joined his staff at Cranbrook, shows some of Milles influence in this and other works.  Although many students feel that the seven figures bear some form of a religious or social message, Marshall Fredericks would be the first to tell you that there is none. According to Fredericks,  "these figures are very light-hearted and were designed to be humorous and pleasant with no hidden social message." [1] He felt that they were quite suitable to the taste of more youthful college audience which could appreciate and admire its simplicity in a tense academic environment.   Although first interpreted by the students as "resembling certain administration and faculty members"[2],  Fredericks offers a somewhat differing interpretation.  To him, the seven figures represent "good, evil, temptation, knowledge of good and evil, a saint of the church, a  mother and child, and a warrior saint."[3]  Upon closer examination of the facial expressions and gestures, its humorous style becomes apparent to even the most inexperienced of critics. The rather imposing and streamlined figures stand approximately ten feet in height and are made of cast bronze.

Although the seven figures have made Oakland their home, they were not originally commissioned for the university. In fact, the "Saints and Sinners" figures were not a commissioned work at all, but a personal project of Fredericks.  For nearly thirty years, whenever he wasn't working on a commissioned work, Fredericks would turn his attention towards the figures. Each one was worked on individually and was designed "from smaller models of the sculpture made shortly after World War II". [4]  Over the years, the figures had been carefully stored in Fredericks studio. They were first brought to the attention of Oakland University through the good services of Doctor Warren B. Cooksey.

Dr. Cooksey, who had been active in the affairs of Oakland through his services in the Oakland University President's Club, became intrigued with the idea of bringing the sculpture to the university.  Dr. Cooksey felt that the funds to purchase "Saints and Sinners" could be obtained from the Josephine E.  Gordon Foundation of which he was a member. In a memorandum which was sent to Oakland University President Donald D. O'Dowd on October 5, 1973,  he continued to express his interest in obtaining the figures.  He  informed President O'Dowd that the Josephine E. Gordon Foundation had "a source of funds (from interest charges) which they did not anticipate."[5]

The Foundation, which provides funds for educational, charitable, religious, scientific and literary purposes for the public welfare, discussed the matter with Dr. Cooksey.[6]   To Dr. Cooksey's pleasure, the Foundation's Board approved a donation of $100,000 to Oakland University  for the purchase of "Saints and Sinners."  Oakland University officially accepted this generous donation on June 26, 1974, as President O'Dowd's  resolution to accept this generous donation before the Board of Trustee's was adopted.  In addition, the Board also authorized "the expenditure of  funds granted by the Oakland University Foundation to install the sculptures in an appropriate and aesthetically pleasing manner on the Oakland University Campus." [7]

Perhaps one of the most interesting of problems posed by the "Saints and  Sinners" sculpture was where its location on campus should be. There were several sites which were first proposed (these are shown in the sketches in back), which prompted the University to employ the consulting engineering firm of Johnson, Johnson, & Roy, Inc., to study the feasibility of each site. The Ann Arbor firm's findings had led to a narrowing of the field to three sites for consideration: the Library mall site, the Oakland Center site, and the Beer Lake site. In choosing between the three sites, there were three basic criteria which had to be taken into consideration. These three, in their order of importance, were "the cost and ease of installation, easy access and exposure to public viewing, and easy access to the water supply." [8]  Of the three sites, the Library mall location proved to be the most practical since its costs were relatively moderate and its location guaranteed it easy access to water and exposure to public viewing.  Reason for the unacceptability of the other sites extended beyond expense and into other areas. For example,  Beer Lake would have to contend with the problem of ice in the winter, while the Oakland Center site was under consideration for the construction of a new building. [9]  With these factors taken into consideration, the decision to locate the sculpture in front of Kresge Library was made with relative ease.

The final task of the project involved the construction of the fountain and pool setting for the figures. The funds for such an undertaking were made available to the university the form of a bequest from the estate of Irene C. Wellock for $80,000 and an additional $15,000 was provided by the Oakland University Foundation. The contract for the project was  awarded to the Wydan Construction company whose budget, as reviewed by Johnson, Johnson, Roy, reads as follows:

Architects Fees $5,500  
  Wydan Construction, Inc. $59, 450  
  Inspection & Engineering $1,250  
Contingency $1,800 [10]

The construction of the fountain was completed in 1976 with no major problems encountered. Apparently, the only deviation from the original design was to use polished marble instead of sawed marble since the polished marble was by far more complimentary and agreeable with the sculptures' other features.  Installation of the "Saints and Sinners"  figures was done in ample time for the dedication ceremony which took place on October 22, 1976. The ceremony which was closed to the public was attended by those individuals and organizations whose contributions and dedication to the "Saints and Sinners" project made possible the attainment of Oakland University's first major sculpture. The fifty individuals who were in attendance that day were mostly members of the following organizations:

Josephine E. Gordon Foundation
Oakland University's Board of Trustees
Executive Committee of the President's Club
The University President's Administrative Group
Executive Trustees of the Oakland University Foundation [11]

As the "Saints and Sinners" sculpture nears its tenth anniversary at  Oakland University (1976-1986), the figures have become as much a part of  the campus scene as Beer Lake, soccer or Saga. The contributions of those individuals whose efforts rewarded the university with its first major sculpture have not been lost upon the students.  At times, their concern for the well-being of the figures has been shown that it knows no bounds.  After all, how often do figures in other sculptures receive mittens and scarves for those cold winter nights?

[1] Telephone interview with Marshall Fredericks, Sculptor (Saints and Sinners), 17 September 1985.
[2] "Five sculptors of the Midwest," National Sculpture Review, Spring,   1976, p. 1.
[3]  Kathy Parrish, "Saints and Sinners find a home," In Touch, January  1977, p. 1
[4] Telephone interview with Marshall Fredericks, Sculptor (Saints and Sinners), 17 September 1985
[5] Memorandum to Oakland University President Donald D. O'Dowd from Glenn Brown, Assistant President for Campus Development, 5 October 1973.
[6] Marianna O. Lewis, ed., The Foundation Directory, 4th ed. (New York:   Columbia University Press, 1971), p. 181
[7] Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan, 26 June 1974.
[8] Telephone interview with George Karas, Oakland University Engineer, 29  October 1985.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Memorandum to Dr. Kenneth H. Coffin, Vice President for Campus and  Student Affairs, from George Karas, Oakland University Engineer, 9 February 1976.
[11] Telephone interview with B. J. Griffin, Oakland University Development Office, 30 October 1985.

Other works by Marshall Fredericks

"Worlds Fountain, New York, 1939;
Rackham Memorial Building, Detroit;
Veterans Memorial Building, Detroit;
University of Michigan;
Louisville-Courier Journal Building;
Fort Street Station, Detroit;
Eaton Manufacturing Company, war memorial;
Cranbrook Academy of Arts;
City of Detroit Coll.;
Detroit Institute of Art;
Cleveland School of Art;
Jefferson School, Window, Michigan;
Holy Ghost Seminary, Ann Arbor, Michigan;
Ohio State University;
Ford Auditorium, Detroit:
Dallas (Texas) Public Library;
Detroit Zoological Park;
Indian River (Michigan) Catholic Shrine;
Beaumont Hospital, Detroit;
Michigan Horticultural Society;
General Motors Corporation;
Chrysler Corporation;
Dow Chemical Corporation;
City of Grand Rapids Coll.;
St. John's Church, Ft. Wayne [1*];
Milwaukee Public Museum, Wisconsin;
Emigrants Monument, Scavenger, Norway;
Miles Garden, Stockholm, Sweden;
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Copenhagen, Denmark;
Brookgreen Garden's, Giddes Gallery, Charleston, South Carolina;
Sterling Heights, Michigan; and others." [2*]

[1*] Gilbert, Dorothy B., ed. Who's Who in American Art. New York: R.R. Bowker, 1962.
[2*] Cattell, Jaques, ed. Who's Who in American Art. New York: R.R.  Bowker, 1984.


Fredericks, Marshall, Sculptor (Saints and Sinners),  Telephone interview, 17 September 1985.

"Five sculptors of the Midwest," National Sculpture Review, Spring, 1978.  p. 11

Parrish, Kathy. "Saints and Sinners find a home,"  In Touch, January 1977.

Brown, Glenn, Assistant President for Campus Development.  Memorandum to Oakland University President Donald D. O'Dowd. 5 October 1974.

Lewis, Marianna O. ed.  The Foundation Directory. 4th ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1971.

Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan. Board of Trustees.  Minutes of the meeting of 16 June 1974.

Karas, George, Oakland University Engineer.  Telephone interview, 29 October 1985.

Karas, George, Oakland University Engineer.  Memorandum to Dr. Kenneth H. Coffman, Vice President for Campus and Student Affairs. 9 February 1976.

Griffin, B.J.  Oakland University Development Office. Telephone interview, 30 October 1985.

[Used with permission of Jeffrey M. Haight}

Minutes from the Meeting Authorizing the Purchase of the "Saints and Sinners" Sculptures

Oakland University Foundation
Executive Trustees Meeting
July 2, 1974

Present:  Mses. Johnson, Lewis, and Mitchell and Messrs. Cross, Goad, George, Fitzgerald, Howlett, Lewis, McGregor, Weston, O'Dowd, Swanson, and Dearth.

The meeting, with Mr. Goad presiding, began with the Treasurer's report submitted by Robert Swanson.  Upon a motion by Harold Fitzgerald, seconded by Milo Cross, the report was accepted and authorization was given to transfer moneys to the Meadow Brook Five-Year Fund where such gifts were so specified.

Mr. Goad appointed Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Cross to the Nominating Committee to report at the Oct. 17 Annual Meeting.

Mr. Dearth reported on the growth of the President's Club which now stands at 81 active members including nine new members since October, 1973.  Another member-guest event is planned for August 18 at the MeadowBrook Festival and Meadow Brook Hall to which members and potential members of the presidents Club will be invited.

President O'Dowd's report mentioned the gift to the university of a pipe organ from Mr. Roger Kyes, the second nine holes of the new gold course from Mr. and Mr. Harold Cousins, the bequest from the estate of Irene Wellock of approximately $80,000, and the gift of $100,000 from the Josephine Gordon Fund to be used to purchase Marshall Fredericks' "Saints and Sinners" sculptures.

President O'Dowd asked the Foundation to approve an expenditure of up to $15,000 for a base for the sculptures and a $10,000 grant to match student fund raising for the Village Project.

Upon a motion by Mr. Weston, seconded by Mr. McGregor, this money was authorized.

President O'Dowd concluded his report with some comments about the new international programs now underway, the Upward Bound Fine Arts program and the plans for the new Public Safety and Service Building.  He also mentioned the need for a new classroom building of approximately $6,000,000 cost which is being considered by the Legislature.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:05.

Respectfully submitted,
Robert A. Dearth
Executive Director

Letter from former Oakland University President Donald O'Dowd, written while he was at the University of Alaska to his former OU secretary B.J. Griffin.

December 11, 1985

Ms. B.J. Griffin
Office of Development
Oakland University
Rochester, Michigan 48063

Dear B.J.:

Thanks very much for sending me a copy of Jeffrey M. Haight's paper on "Saints and Sinners".  It does recall a lot of events and memories which have become rather dim with the passage of time and the interference from two other universities.

As best I can recall, Mr. Haight's recreation of the events of the mid-sixties surrounding the acquisition and installation of Saints and Sinners is very accurate.   I would only add that Warren Cooksey envisioned the installation of the Saints and Sinners statue a number of years before the project was actually organized and funded.   I suspect he started talking to me about this proposal as early as 1970 and probably discussed it with Woody even before that.  I know that Dr. Cooksey had developed a genuine affection for this particular piece of sculpture and very much pictured it as an adornment for the University campus.

After a time I got to know Marshall Fredericks, probably through the Cookseys, and became better acquainted with his work and frankly I was charmed by it and by him.   Marshall's work has a lightness of touch, wonderful good humor and a whimsical quality that characterized few sculptors of this or any other era.  He is also a masterful technician and his work has a great deal of technical integrity. This combination seemed to be a good one for the University.  I judged that the type of work that he was creating would have a long-term appeal to students particularly as their attitudes and ideas were changing in the mid-seventies toward the direction that we see so firmly entrenched today.  It was a guess as to what the future generation would value and I think maybe we guessed right.  As you know a lot of people were critical of the acquisition and installation of the statue, arguing that it was too representational, dated and reminiscent of another era.  That was probably true in the early seventies - I suspect it is less true today.

I believe the individual figures were indeed named for members of the administration and at times the several figures were clearly identified with various members of the central office and the individual colleges.

As I read through the document I wondered if Warren Cooksey was a member of the foundation Executive Committee. I know that he was quite active in Foundation affairs although that may have been primarily through his role in the President's Club.

In any case, it is an excellent paper and is accurate and complete to the best of my knowledge.

With love, Don

[Used with permission of Donald D. O'Dowd.  A copy of this letter was sent to Jeffrey Haight who supplied it for this page.]

Seven Saints and Sinners

    (click thumbnails for larger image)

Picture of Good Influence statue
Picture of Pious Monk statue
Picture of Eve statue
Picture of Mother and Child statue
Picture of Temptation statue
Picture of Warrior Saint statue
Picture of Evil Influence statue


Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, Saginaw, Michigan, plaster originals, 1976
Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan, bronze, 1976
Midland Center for the Arts, Midland, Michigan, bronze, 1977

Sketches of Proposed Sites for the Sculptures:

    (click thumbnails for larger image)

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Beer Lake

Library Mall - East

Library Mall - West

Oakland Center

Wilson Hall

Varner Hall

Meadowbrook Festival

Statues Sketch

Cover Letter

Table of Contents

Unretouched Wilson Hall Sketch

Unretouched Oakland Center Sketch

    (Sketches restored by Rob Burns)

Back to TOP / TEXT


Articles on Fredericks:

A.I.A. fine arts medal for 1952. por (p. 20) American Institute of Architects Journal 18: 3 July 1952

Architecture and sculpture. American Institute of Architects Journal 18: 6-8 July '52

Awarded AIA fine arts medal. por Magazine of Building (house and home edition) 1:1963 June '52

Beyond the graven images: sculptor's campus presence stirs debate after death,  by Jenni Glenn.
Michigan Daily, 9-23-99.

Five sculptors of the Midwest. National Sculpture Review 27   no. 1: 11 Spring 1978  il: Saints and sinners fountain

Fountain creator passes away," by Pam Hendrix. Oakland Post, April 8, 1998 (online)

Levi Barbour memorial fountain. M. Fredericks, sculptor. il  Pencil  Points 18:92-5 Fall 1939 

'Man of the Expanding Universe' : Marshall M. Fredericks fountain restored and rededicated at the State-Department-Building in Washington, DC."  Sculpture Review 45, no. 4 (SPR 1997): 35

Marshall Fredericks.  IN: Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture, by Robin R. Salmon. Brookgreen, SC: Brookgreen Gardens, 1993.  v. 2, pp. 126-137,  219.

Marshall Fredericks honored (Sun worshiper).  Sculpture Review 43, no. 4 (WIN 1995): 33

NSS presents awards. National Sculpture Review 31 no. 2: 27 Summer 1982

Portrait.  Architectural Record 112: 11 July 1952

Public sculpture, the talk of the town. M. Lantz. National Sculpture Review 31 no. 1: 22-3 Spring 1982  il: model for Mother Bear and Baby (2)

Recent dedications. National Sculpture Review 27 no. 1:20  Spring 1978  il: Henry Ford I memorial

'Saints and Sinners' find a home, by Kathy Parrish, In Touch, January 1977.

Sculptor to the people. E. W. Watson. il. por. American Artist  18:36-41+ Summer 1954

"Sculpture was local, images were global," by Patricia Montermurri.   Detroit Free Press,  April 6, 1998

Reproductions of Fredericks sculpture:

Acrobat.   Pencil Points 20: 661 October 1939

Baboon Fountain.  Pencil Points 20: 662-3 October 1939

Barbour fountain. National Sculpture Review 22 no. 4:24 Winter 1973-74

Bas relief for Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan. Architectural Record 119: 28 May 1956

Bear.  Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Journal 33:229  June 1956

Bear. National Sculpture Review 18 no. 2: 9 Summer 1969

Bear and boy.  Architectural Forum 100: 118 June 1954

Bear and boy.  Arts & Architecture 72: 23 May 1955

Childhood friends (bronze). Sculpture review 35:11   Spring 1986

Eaton manufacturing medal. National Sculpture Review 20, no. 3: 17 Fall 1971

Flying geese. National Sculpture Review 30 no.4:21  Winter 1981-82

Flying gulls. National Sculpture Review 19 no. 2: 14   Summer 1969

Friendly frog. National Sculpture Review 20, no. 4:20  Winter 1971-72

Gazelle. National Sculpture Review 21 no. 3: 6 Fall 1972

Gazelle (bronze, 1972). Sculpture Review 40 no.2: 27 1991

Gazelle medal (1977). National Sculpture Review 30 no. 1:  covs Spring 1981 (2 views)

Juggler. Pencil Points 20: 661 October '39

Levi Barbour memorial fountain. M. Fredericks, sculptor. il  Pencil  Points 18:92-5 Fall 1939

Man and the expanding universe (bronze, nickel, glass, Mosaic and granite). Sculpture Review 32 no. 4:13  Winter 1984-84

Ohio Union Building panels. National Sculpture Review 21, no. 2: 19 Summer 1972

Persephone, goddess of spring. National Sculpture Review   22 no. 3:14 Fall 1973

Portrait of a Japanese. Cleveland Museum Bulletin 18:95 May '31 Art Digest 5:5 June 1931

Portraits of farm animals. Magazine of Art 34:435 October 1941

Sisters. Pencil Points 20: 261-2 May 1939

Torso of a dancer. Magazine of Art 32:653 November 1939

Torso of a dancer.  Pencil Points 20: 664 October 1939

Warrior saint. National Sculpture Review 25 no. 4: 11   Winter 1976-77

image by Robert Slater

last updated 7/2/03
comments to: Linda Hildebrand

Created on 12/12/06 by 11/21/02 by Linda Hildebrand / Last updated on 8/25/13 by Rob Burns
Oakland University

Oakland University, Kresge Library
2200 N Squirrel Rd., Rochester, MI 48309
(248) 370 - 4426