Troy Cultural Arts Park: ‘Where East meets West’

Lilly Casolaro

News Editor

“Where East Meets West” is the theme of the Janice Hawkins Cultural Park featuring key landmarks from around the world in one centralized location.

In an interview with the Tropolitan, Janice Hawkins said that the Board of Trustees decided upon the name for the Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park.

“This is going to be much bigger than Troy University,” said Janice Hawkins, wife of Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr.

According a brochure given at the dedication ceremony, “East meets West in the Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park where people of all ages come together to celebrate, to dance, to sing, to learn to find inspiration, and to experience the world.”

The park includes a green space and amphitheater, the International Arts Center and an outdoor exhibit called “Warriors Unearthed.”

At a press conference on Thursday, Nov. 3, Chancellor Hawkins quoted Winston Churchill in reference to the transformation of the former Stewart Dining Hall into the International Arts Center.

“We shape our buildings, and then our buildings shape us,” Hawkins said. “It has been transformational to see where it was to where it is.”

Hawkins expressed that the formation and creation of the park on Troy’s campus is one of a kind.

“There is no way to reproduce what we have here,” Hawkins said. “This is a tremendous addition to this University.”

Chancellor Hawkins said that Troy’s first lady has been the “driving force” behind the International Arts Center.

“The important thing to know is that it is a building block process,” First Lady Hawkins said at the press conference. “It has truly been a university project.”

A public dedication ceremony for the opening of Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park was hosted in the amphitheater on Friday, Nov. 4 at 4 p.m.

Key speakers included: Board of Trustee member, Lamar Higgins, Chancellor Hawkins and First Lady Janice Hawkins.

Janice Hawkins shared a conversation she and Chancellor Hawkins had when eating in the former dining hall.

Janice Hawkins recounted their remarks as Chancellor Hawkins said “this would make a great art department,” which began her vision for the center.

A concert including performances from the theater and music departments also commemorated the event.

Following the dedication, attendees were invited to a reception, and the art center was available for guests to view.

Pam Allen, chair of art and design, said at the press conference that there is a “spark” at the International Arts Center.

“We needed a space like this, and we finally have it,” Allen said. “It brings everyone home and shows a new place for art.”

She explained that the Heritage exhibit located in the Huo Bao Zhu gallery features the artwork of over 28 faculty members who have taught at Troy.

A permanent exhibit featuring the works of Troy local Fred “Nall” Hollis is also located inside the arts center.   

“A Southern American artist with an international following, Nall has a unique style that has captivated the attention of the world,” Nall’s bio said. “The gifted artist grew up in Troy, Alabama, and began drawing arts and crafts at his family’s city park at just four years old.”

The “Violata Pax Dove” was a piece donated by Hollis and is located outside of the arts center on the Daniel Foundation of Alabama Plaza, named after an organization who donated funds for the project.

According to Hollis, the “white dove is a symbol of peace.”

The nameplate of the dove on the Plaza said “the sculpture was originally commissioned as part of a post-earthquake renovation project for the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in Italy…the dove also illustrates the shattering of peace on September 11, 2001.”

The “Warriors Unearthed” exhibit, created by artist Frank Marquette, begins on the lower level of the International Arts Center and continues outside. According to a university press release, “‘Warriors Unearthed,’ (is) a collection of and interpretive center for some 200 replica terracotta warriors, believed to be the largest such collection of statuaries outside of China.”

The terracotta warriors by artist and sculptor, Huo Bao Zhu from Xi’an China, are centralized around the lagoon and amphitheater area for outdoor viewing.

Zhu has previously made contributions to the university, and he received an honorary doctorate from Troy in 2014.

At the dedication, First Lady Hawkins shared of when she toured Zhu on the grounds of the location and how he inspired her by saying “this needs to be the cultural center of the university.”

In the interview, First Lady Hawkins described the new arts center and park as a place where students can come to learn and experience art and also a place where they can find peace.

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