Troy University to Build Cultural Arts Park

TROY, Ala. — Troy University will soon be home to 200 life-sized Chinese terra cotta warrior statues from Shannxi, China. The replica Terra Cotta Army collection is one of the key elements to make up the university’s new Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park, which will serve as a cultural arts centerpiece to help build the relationship between the university and the community.

Construction of the park includes the renovation of the existing Stewart Hall to become an arts center with 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 and academic space for the university’s graphic design program. The park will include a vast amount of green space, a lagoon and walking trails in the surrounding wooded areas.

Inspired by Asian cultures, the park will be a botanical showplace as well as a center for relaxation, meditation and outdoor study for university students and visitors. “It will be a cultural crossroads,” said Janice Hawkins, first lady of Troy University, in a statement, “A place where east meets west.”

The Chinese Terra Cotta Army replica statues will arrive in Troy in the coming weeks. They are exact replicas of the original Terra Cotta Army sculptures dating back to 200 B.C., which were unearthed in 1974 and depict the armies of China’s first Emperor Qin Shi Huang, according to a statement.

Chinese sculptor Dr. Hu Bao Zhu recreated and agreed to personally donate 100 of the warriors as well as 10 other statues for the park. The Confucius Institute at Troy University commissioned the sculptor to create an additional 100 terra cotta warriors, according to The Troy Messenger. Once the installation is complete, Troy will be home to the largest permanent exhibit of replicas of these sculptures.

In addition to the warriors, a peace dove sculpture and rendering of the Nandi Bull, an icon in Hindu culture, will also be provided by Southern American artist Nall, who was raised in Troy.

Troy University and City of Troy representatives view the developing Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park as a key component to their ongoing partnership. “We want Troy to be an arts community,” said Troy Mayor Jason Reeves in a statement. “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].”

A recently awarded $500,000 grant from the Daniel Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping strengthen Alabama’s communities, is a prime example of how that university-community relationship is developing. “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 in a statement.