Current Texas A&M students honor the lives of 12 Aggies lost in the bonfire through art

Published: Nov. 14, 2019 at 8:08 PM CST
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Texas A&M University Department of Visualization Professor Benjamin Knox challenged his class to create an art piece that depicted their visual perception of the Bonfire Memorial.

The 1999 Bonfire holds a special place in Knox’s heart.

“I was at the site that morning,” said Knox. “It was very emotional and very moving, and I left some art pieces out there for them as well.”

Knox has been creating art for Texas A&M for 31 years and has never stopped trying to honor the 12 Aggies that were lost in 1999.

Knox took his students who weren't born yet when Stack fell out to the Bonfire Memorial, where they sketched a rough draft of how they were going to approach these pieces in their own unique way.

The students all approached the task differently, but they all had one thing in mind.

“There was a sense of weight to it, a sense that I had to put my best foot forward,” said Freshman Adithya Sathya. “I feel like all the students thought that.”

Classmate Amelia McCarthy went with a more colorful approach. McCarthy said she went out to the Bonfire Memorial during sunset, and it spoke to her at that moment.

“So, I wanted to make sure that the memorial felt like it was alive,” said McCarthy. “Like they were all imbued by the spirits of those Aggies that had passed.”

Whether they used watercolors, chalk, or pencil, every student felt touched by the project.

“It’s really showing how much we as Aggies care about each other,” said Sathya.

A&M Freshman Kirby Key said these 12 students have changed the way he views Texas A&M.

“In my mind, they have become the quintessential 12 Aggies for representing the Aggie spirit,” said Key.

McCarthy is a 3rd generation Aggie, and she said the Bonfire Memorial is special to her because her grandfather was able to see the memorial on his last trip to Aggieland.

“My grandfather didn’t know them because he’s class of 1949, and my father and mother didn’t know them because they were class of 1984,” said McCarthy. “But they all acted like they knew them personally. That’s the great thing about being Aggies, you may never meet each other, but when you see the ring, and you see the seal on it, you know what type of person they are and their character.”

Knox said this project was a way of connecting his students to a group of Aggies that were lost 20 years ago.

“They were amazing kids, they were top kids, and these guys are amazing students as well,” said Knox. “So we’re continuing their memory through this exhibit.”

The display is in the Flag Room in the MSC, and these students will be presenting their artwork to the parents of the victims on Sunday.