Chosen by a national panel of experts, this is the design for the University of Mississippi's memorial to the integration of higher education set to grace the heart of the university's Oxford campus.
Terry Adkins of Brooklyn, N.Y., is the artist for the historic work to be erected where, nearly 40 years ago, violence erupted and two people were killed as federal authorities helped a black man, James Meredith, be admitted as a student.
The State Board of Institutions of Higher Learning unanimously approved acceptance of the memorial in a regular meeting July 18 in Jackson. Two other state agency approvals are needed before the project is completed, but memorial supporters said they are optimistic about the outcome.
Donations of more than $100,000 from friends, faculty and students were raised for the project during the past six years. Two of the recent gifts were a grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and $35,000 raised by UM fraternity and sorority members
"Throughout history, mankind has memorialized important people and events with the creation of statues and other markers," said Chancellor Robert Khayat about the plans for artwork. "Although painful, destructive actions occurred, the ultimate outcome was full accessibility for all Mississippians to the higher education institutions of our state. It is fitting that permanent recognition of this significant event be expressed through the medium of a monument."
Adkins is a highly respected artist and guest lecturer, whose work appears in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, The Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., as well as other museums from New Jersey to Georgia, Texas, California and Switzerland.
"This permanent work of art should be a monument that commemorates the past, witnesses the present and anticipates the future," Adkins wrote in his proposal, which was judged best from more than 100 submitted earlier this year. He is an associate professor of fine arts at the University of Pennsylvania.
For the memorial, the university has designated the circular ground between its symbolic Lyceum Building and the J.D. Williams Library. Adkins termed it "a site of pilgrimage, a spiritual epicenter and a nourishing retreat" for "a renewed dedication to the everlasting ideals that fuel the ongoing struggle for justice."
In his proposal, Adkins described his concept for the 11-feet-high doors, etched upon each the image of the State of Mississippi divided into its 82 counties and phrases relating to the Civil Rights Movement, such as "Teach in Fear No More" and "Insist in Fear No More." The Doric-style arches will be 19 feet tall.
One of the jurists, Rene Paul Barilleaux of Jackson, said, "As a member of Mississippi's cultural community, I was particularly interested in the range and quality of design submissions. The memorial will broadly impact the university and the state, as well as the far-reaching perception of Mississippi." Barilleaux is chief curator of the Mississippi Museum of Art.
The monument is expected to be completed by spring of 2003, with the site set for dedication during a university observance Oct. 1.
Finalists for the project were invited to campus in February, then shipped models of their ideas for final consideration.
By Patsy R. Brumfeld.
University of Mississippi release available here.