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Depiction of Einstein image returns to campus


Jack Maxwell

The creative impact of award-winning sculptor-painter Jack Maxwell (’78) rolls on at Abilene Christian University, where his latest – a familiar depiction of gleeful cyclist Dr. Albert Einstein – is now portrayed in two of its major science buildings.

“Life is like riding a bicycle,” once said Einstein, a theoretical scientist considered one of the fathers of modern physics. “To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” 

That imagery has been linked for years to a famous photo of the physicist-inventor pedaling while completing a professorial internship at CalTech in 1933, the same year he fled Germany for the U.S. when dictator Adolf Hitler was rising to power in his homeland.

Bike-riding Einstein was a favorite of teachers and students of the sciences at Abilene Christian for years, and now reappears in the same tall stairwell where students once painted it on a back wall. 

That stairwell in today’s Onstead Science Center, previously named the Foster Science Building before a major renovation in 2018, now has a reborn mural featuring Maxwell’s depiction of the cycling scene.

Permission to use the original small black-and-white image as the basis for printing Maxwell’s new illustration was granted by the Leo Baeck Institute for the study of German-Jewish history. 

The new mural, Einstein On a Bicycle, also appears 9 feet tall in transparent form on a second-floor window wall outside the Towell Conference Room in ACU’s new Dillard Science and Engineering Research Center.


Stairwell of Onstead Science Center

Maxwell, who taught at his alma mater from 1984-2018, has numerous notable pieces at ACU: a major outdoor sculpture site featuring Jacob’s Dream, an iconic bronze of angels climbing a ladder to heaven; bronze busts of former football head coach and athletics director Wally Bullington (’53), and former trustee, pro golf legend and golf clubhouse namesake Byron Nelson; Lean On Me bronze sculpture at Wildcat Stadium; and a mural in Byron Nelson Golf Clubhouse of a famous arched bridge flanking the 12th green at Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters tournament. For years, he also illustrated portraits of major benefactors and inductees to the ACU Sports Hall of Fame.

Einstein died in 1955 at age 76 and also once said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

Thanks to Maxwell, Einstein – a beloved Nobel Prize-winning physicist with untamed hair, an inquisitive mind and wry sense of humor – will continue to inspire learners of all ages, especially those who explore the sciences at ACU.

— Ron Hadfield
Jan. 17, 2024

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