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Last updated: 2:49 p.m. on April 1, 2020

Ernest Trova’s “Abstract Variation” sculpture returns to the Pool Art Center

After a trip to St. Louis for some much needed restoration, the sculpture “Abstract Variation”, created by Ernest Trova, has returned to the Pool Art Center on Drury University’s main campus thanks to funding from alumna and longtime Drury supporters Mary Jane Pool ’46 and Earl Pool.

Ernest Trova, a St. Louis native, was among the most widely acknowledged sculptors working in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1969, his work was heralded by the New York Times as “among the best of contemporary American sculpture.”

“Abstract Variation” is a large steel sculpture made of geometric shapes bolted and welded together and painted his signature ‘Trova’ red.

Trova donated “Abstract Variation” to Drury in 1979, following exhibits of his work in the Harwood Galleries in 1971 and 1977. The Trova sculpture was moved to Clay and Pythian when Drury renovated the building that is now the Pool Art Center.

In 2016 Associate Professor and PAC Gallery Director Rebecca Miller discovered that a piece had fallen off the sculpture due to the harsh weather conditions in the Ozarks over the course of previous years. Miller alerted Art Collection Curator, Jacqueline Tygart, who began consulting with museums to find the most appropriate expert on Trova restoration. According to Tygart, “Nick Burgett in St. Louis was highly recommended. He knew Ernest Trova personally for years and worked on his sculptures while he was still alive. He has restored many of Trova’s works, and has many more commissions waiting on his time and talent.”

With a price established, the Office of University Advancement approached long-time arts supporter Mary Jane Pool and her brother Earl Pool, for whom the Pool Art Center is named. In October of 2018, Burgett moved Drury’s dull and broken sculpture to his St. Louis studio S.O.A.C. Fabrications.

The new and improved three-ton steel sculpture was lifted into place by a crane in the early afternoon of Wednesday, August 14, 2019. Located in front of the Pool Art Center, Trova’s “Abstract Variation” is displayed for future generations of students, artists, and supporters of the arts to enjoy.

To learn more about Ernest Trova and his artwork, visit