UW-Green Bay’s new “Phoenix Rising” sculpture is providing the campus with unintended attention. Meant to be an iconic artwork that students (and alumni) would take photos of and with, the sculpture is also now being shared widely on multiple social media platforms.
Faculty, staff and students gathered for a brief celebration and ceremony introducing the Phoenix Rising sculpture to the campus community, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. UW-Green Bay Vice Chancellor For Student Affairs and Campus Climate Eric Arneson, Student Government Association (SGA) President Abbie Wagaman and artist Carl Vanderheyden each took a few minutes to describe their part in the project from inception to completion.
“One thing I heard clearly from students was that while we have a gorgeous campus, we did not have the iconic spot for pictures and gathering that clearly exemplifies our campus and is easily recognizable as UW Green Bay,” Arneson said. “…It quickly became clear that we needed to create a space that was a symbol of our great University that would be universally identifiable and instill even more pride in our University community. Clearly, the symbol for us is the Phoenix. It is a powerful symbol representing us. Upon conversation with many stakeholders, it was decided a sculpture of the Phoenix would create the energy and space we all desire.”
SUFAC (Segregated University Fee Allocation Committee) and SGA were on board, as was Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Chuck Rybak.
Vanderheyden described how, as a free-form artist, he sometimes forgets to stand back and take a look at the entire piece.
“Occasionally I make anatomical flaws, a hip out of place, head upside down, things the untrained eye may not see… head placement was critical to the outcome, and the day I was going to position the head, no lie, an ornithologist friend, from across the country, Just happened to stop by, and between the two of us, we got the head ‘not’ upside down…
…Fortunately, the Phoenix is a mythical creature, so I had little leeway,” he joked.
Vanderheyden thanked UW-Green Bay Professor Toni Damkoehler (Design Arts) for “extracting a concept from head to to paper.” He described the exterior body and wings as made from high-grade “tank-steel” with a “powerful, stainless steel core, engineered to handle a tornado, and possibly, a car crash,” considering its location near the David A. Cofrin Library circle. “Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them,” he said, attributing Albert Einstein.
Wagaman said the sculpture has truly become the talk of campus for the first few days of school.
“We initially wanted this as a spot for students to be able to take pictures and symbolize their involvement with the UW-Green Bay University,” Wagaman said. “We want this to become a tradition, similar to the shoe tree on campus, where students come out and take a picture on their first day each year through college, and then end it by throwing their shoes up in the tree. This is OUR statue, and we as students want to make it such. Thank you for attending and helping us reach that goal.”
Click to advance slideshow or view the album on Flickr.
– Photos by Dan Moore, Office of Marketing and University Communication