Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
November 30, 2023

Statue memorializes dead student

By Gisela Vargas | October 24, 2002

The statue Spirit of Music, located south of the Mattin Center, was erected last week to commemorate the late Hopkins student Rex Chao.

Chao was shot and killed in close proximity to the Milton S. Eisenhower Library by fellow student Robert J. Harwood on April 10, 1996. Walking back to their respective dorms from a College Republicans meeting, Harwood shot Chao twice with a .357 Magnum after becoming engrossed in an argument.

In response to the tragic event, the Rex Chao Memorial Committee was created in 1996 to honor the memory of Chao.

Former girlfriend Suzanne Hubbard and close friend AmyClair Brusch co-chaired the committee, with the support of five other close friends of Chao. The committee focused on raising money in order to memorialize their friend and fellow student.

Over the past six years, the committee has raised more than $70,000 to cover the statue, the base and other costs, such as shipping and handling. It ran several successful fundraisers, such as E-Level night, to raise money and awareness. In addition, the committee received various generous contributions, donors ranging from the Student Council to the Class of 1996.

Bronze sculptor and Maine resident Jud Hartmann was selected to create the memorial.

His work includes the bronze statue of Native Americans playing lacrosse located at the entrance of the Lacrosse Museum by Homewood field.

The memorial statue, entitled Spirit of Music, is a bronze life-size sculpture of a young man.

The young man playing the violin is to portray Chao's love of and talent for music. Hartmann, having never met Chao, worked from old photographs to capture his spirit and essence in bronze.

In regards to previous debates of whether the face of the memorial should be modeled after Chao's, Mary Ellen Porter, assistant director of annual giving, described the sculpture as "[accordingly] reminiscent but not an exact replica."

"It is meant to memorialize him," she said.

Hubbard once said "[we want] a memorial that would be beautiful?because there are so many bad things associated with his death."

The memorial is placed outside of the Mattin Center. Still covered, it will not be unveiled until Saturday, Nov. 23, in a private ceremony for the friends and family of Chao.

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