A recently awarded $500,000 grant from the Daniel Foundation will help fund Troy University’s construction of a park that will serve as a cultural arts centerpiece for the community.
Located between the Troy University Chancellor’s home and McKinley Drive, the Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park will be a botanical showplace as well as a center of relaxation, meditation and outdoor study for the University family and visitors to the Troy Campus.
“It will be a cultural crossroads,” said Janice Hawkins, First Lady of Troy University, “A place where east meets west.”
TROY Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. said the vision for the park began several years ago at an afternoon concert in the Gerald Ford Amphitheater in Vail, Colorado.
“As we sat there listening to that beautiful music, it occurred to us that we could have something like this,” he said. “We began looking at the little amphitheater we had on campus, and then we began looking at the kudzu ravine down below. We realized that, if we take it and build it one step at a time, maybe one day we can have something that will serve well all of this community.”
The park will include a significant amount of greenspace and walking trails in the wooded areas surrounding it as well as a lagoon.
Among the featured attractions of the park will be 200 life-sized Chinese Terra Cotta Warrior statues from Shaanxi, China.
The statues are the work of renowned Chinese sculptor Dr. Hu Bao Zhu, who has agreed to personally donate 100 of the Warriors, plus 10 additional statues for the park.
The Terra Cotta Army is a collection of ancient terra cotta sculptures, unearthed in 1974, depicting the armies of China’s first Emperor Qin Shi Huang.
Chancellor Hawkins visited the original excavation site in Xi’an and liked the idea of making TROY the home of the largest permanent exhibit of replicas of these sculptures.
In the coming weeks, the Warriors will arrive in Troy. Additionally, the artist Nall will provide a Peace Dove sculpture and a rendering of the Nandi Bull, a major icon of Hindu culture, for the park.
Construction of the park also includes the renovation of the existing Stewart Hall, which will become an arts center featuring a permanent art gallery, a temporary exhibit gallery, an interpretive arts center, an artist’s studio, a green room to support performing arts events at the amphitheater, classroom space and the Graphic Design Program.
“Our galleries are just going to be the most exciting things,” said Mrs. Hawkins. “We’re going to have a permanent gallery, where we have already received some major collections that we’ll have on display, and then we’ll have a student gallery, where our students’ works will be, and I hope we’ll have some travelling shows eventually.”
Troy University and City of Troy representatives view the developing Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park as a key component to their ongoing partnership.
“We are a town and gown university,” Mrs. Hawkins said. “We don’t do anything apart from the City of Troy.”
Troy Mayor Jason Reeves called the city’s relationship with the University “One Troy.”
“We want Troy to be an arts community,” Reeves said. “We have as strong an arts (facility) in the Johnson Center for the Arts as there is for a town of our size. It’s a matter of quality of life. Now more than ever, people can choose where they live, where they go to work and where they go to school. The more we can improve the quality of life, (the better).”
He said the generous gift from the Daniel Foundation is further proof of the community’s continued growth.
“If you look around, we’re growing as a community, we’re growing as a university, and we’re going to continue to grow,” Reeves said.