Posted: Friday, March 8th 2013 at 4:59pm
Brenau University welcomes huge tiger sculpture
By B.J. Williams Editor
GAINESVILLE - The mascot for Brenau University's athletic teams is the Golden Tiger, and Friday, the university made room for a tiger sculpture, believed to be the largest in the United States.
The tiger sculpture, crafted by sculptor Greg Johnson of Cumming, was commissioned by North Carolina philanthropist Irwin "Ike" Belk, the son of the founder, as well as the former president, of Belk Department Stores. The university said Belk has commissioned other mascot statues for colleges across the U.S., including the U.S. Air Force Academy's flying falcon and Campbell University's fighting camel.
Johnson has crafted about 20 of the 40 sculptures commissioned by Belk, and last year, he told Belk about Brenau, since he had produced five other smaller pieces for the university. Belk agreed to commission a large mascot sculpture for Brenau.
Johnson said creating the huge sculptures can be a challenge, and the Brenau tiger was no different.
"You're looking at something about a year and a half, a year and nine months in the making," he said of Brenau's tiger. "You first create a miniature...and at that point you can make all the adjustments and fine tuning that you want to do. Once you go for the monumental version, changing anything becomes significantly more difficult."
Johnson assisted with Friday's installation of the sculpture, which weighs about 2,200 lbs. and measures almost eight feet in height and close to 14 feet in length.
Brenau University President Ed Schrader said the sculpture, which sits in a small plaza on college property at the intersection of Academy and Green Streets, will be an attention getter.
"She will be eye catching 24 hours a day," said Schrader, noting that the sculpture will be lighted at night.
He said while the tiger is a symbol of the collegiate mascot, it's not simply representative of the university's athletic programs.
"It does represent a strong, intelligent female in a position not of aggression, but of contemplation, so it really is a good representation of what the university has been," he said.
Schrader said now that the mega-sculpture has been installed, the plaza can be re-landscaped and then a dedication ceremony can take place. He anticipates that will be sometime in late summer or early fall. He said his hope is that Belk, who is 90, will be able to attend.
Link: Greg Johnson web site
© Copyright 2013 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.