American Images: Led by the Spirit by Rick Rush

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Led by the Spirit

Artist: Rick Rush


There were two basic motivations behind the choice of this particular image in commemorating the Texas A&M’s 1988 Cotton Bowl victory. The first is the rich tradition and legacy that the Association of Former Students and all Aggies have built for and left for those who would follow. The second is the excellence that Coach Jackie Sherrill brought to the football program, a standard that makes this legacy concrete in Aggie athletics, presently and for years to come.

In looking to epitomize the spirit of Texas A&M and the Association of Former Students, it was natural to turn to the school’s non-scholar shipped 12th Man Kickoff Team. It was truly a stroke of genius for Coach Sherrill to develop this concept, thereby actively drawing the entire student body back into Aggie athletics. Ever since E. King Gill came out of the stands to stand with the A&M team, Aggies everywhere have stood with the team as that symbolic 12th Man. Therefore, in epitomizing that spirit of the 12th man, it is only natural to have them rising to victory against Notre Dame and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown in the Cotton Bowl.

The painting is entitled “Led By The Spirit: Cotton Bowl 1988.” It portrays the 12th Man squad converging on Tim Brown as the extended 12th Man support team cheers them on. On the sidelines, you can see Coach Sherrill as well as other team members. Also in the background are the school mascot Reveille, yell leaders, and members of the Corps waving their white 12th Man towels. So, suspending in space and time the spirit of Texas A&M.

This serigraph depicts the Texas A&M Aggies of 1988, in their 35 to 10 pummeling of the Irish of Notre Dame. The meeting place was the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. Texas A&M had a fantastic year winning the Southwestern Conference under the leadership of Coach Jackie Sherrill, and their Cotton Bowl was the icing on the cake. Sherill was the coach who had the innovative idea of the 12th man squad, a group of non-scholarship players on the kickoff team. Sherrill created this team to get the spirit of the student body involved in the Texas A&M Team. Rick Rush honors the 12th man squad here, in his depiction of the squad tackling All-American Tim Brown, who had a tremendous year, but was held to almost zero yardage against the Spirit of the Aggies.

Rick Rush
Rick Rush

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