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By Jessi Hardin
Many students at East Carolina University have been through the process of saying goodbye to a loved one they were close to. Whether it was because they are leaving the Greenville area or something more tragic, it has happened to most at one time or another. For this reason, the department of Student Affairs is having a memorial sculpture installed in the courtyard so that students will be able to remember and pay respects to the people important to them.
The memorial garden will be located beside the Erwin Building (home to the College of Fine Arts and Communication), which is across the courtyard from Mendenhall Student Center. The statue will be surrounded by azaleas, providing students with a place to sit and reflect, even just for a moment.
Dr. Virginia Hardy, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, has been involved as a member of the planning committee for the Student Memorial Sculpture Garden. “Soon after I arrived in this position, we had a student who died in battle,” says Hardy, “That sparked my initial interest to develop a place to honor our students.”
Three sculpture students in the Art School, Trey Martin, Michael Kenneth Dodson and Jonathan Burger, have been selected as finalists to create models for the piece of artwork. These three artists have until March 30, 2012 to create a model of their sculpture. The models will then be exhibited in Mendenhall Student Center where the student body will be able to vote on the piece they think is the best fit for a memorial on ECU’s campus.
The sculptor who gets the most votes will receive a $25,000 prize to build and install the sculpture. The chance for one of these students to create a piece of memorial artwork could help launch a career for them as artists.
“This opportunity just shows that you can have a career and enjoy it at the same time,” says Martin.
Jonathan Burger, graduating this May, says that he found his inspiration for his piece from the dogwoods in his grandparents’ gardens when he was growing up. His memorial garden sculpture will be a dogwood tree, because it represents a life cycle and “a certain quality of remembrance for the dead,” says Burger. He wants his artwork to compel students to contemplate the cycle of life and, if they feel drawn to, put remembrances in the bowl that will be a part of the sculpture.
Trey Martin, graduating May of 2012, received inspiration from time serving in the military. His sculpture is based on the concept of an incomplete circle and how life is always bringing unexpected change. He has also incorporated doves, which make for “an interpretation belonging to each person who sees it,” says Martin. Martin wants his sculpture to be representative of the students and friends whose futures were cut short and now they watch over us, he says.
Michael Kenneth Dodson, graduating May of 2014, based his sculpture on his love for nature and being outdoors. Dodson wanted to identify with the students of ECU and with our state, so he has chosen to sculpt a Yellow Poplar tree which is native to North Carolina. He wanted to represent a memorial that relates to NC because all of our students, past and present, have a tie here and they will take it with them no matter where they go, he says. Dodson wants students to be able to contemplate his work, “not just in remembrance, but for all of our students.”
“This garden will call on each of us to slow down from the busyness of life to stop and remember fellow ECU Pirates who have gone on;” says Hardy, “some we did not get a chance to meet, who shared in our common goals and aspirations, and the love of our university.”
College of Fine Arts and Communication
107 Erwin Building, Greenville, NC 27858