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Iconic sculpture of phoenix dedicated at UWGB

By Heather Graves

GREEN BAY – Perched just outside the entrance to the Cofrin Library at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, the newly installed, 13-foot steel and stainless steel sculpture titled “Phoenix Rising” stands tall watching over the campus and its students.

“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 University of Wisconsin-Green Bay,” said Eric Arneson, vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Climate. “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.”

Arneson said clearly that symbol for UWGB is the phoenix, the school’s mascot representing the school, students, educators and staff.

“Upon conversation with many stakeholders, it was decided a sculpture of the phoenix would create the energy and space we all desire,” Arneson said.

Made from 100-percent recycled steel, mainly old fuel oil tanks, the larger-than-life sculpture was created by Green Bay native and metal artist Carl Vanderheyden.

Vanderheyden said he spent a few months designing the internal structure of the sculpture.

“It’s a large piece – 13 feet tall and 13 feet wide and it is gonna have to withstand a wind load, so it has a solid, stainless steel internal structure,” Vanderheyden said.

The cost of the statue was about $40,000, Arneson said, and was funded 50/50 by the university and its student government.

“Phoenix Rising” was dedicated at a brief ceremony, Wednesday, Sept. 4.

Arneson, Vanderheyden and Student Government Association President Abbie Wagaman each took a few minutes to share their thoughts on the project.

“I was very excited to have the university get ahold of me and to do this piece,” Vanderheyden said. “I hope it just inspires them to reach higher. It has this phoenix rising from the ashes, a mythical creature that is reborn. And in school people are going to be reborn, and have a new career, a new life. I hope they will put those two things together and be inspired to continue on and stay strong.”

Arneson said the university plans to install lights, possibly red, around the statue to add an extra glow at night.

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