PHENIX CITY – Troy University and officials from Phenix City and Russell County officially dedicated a statue of the Phoenix on the banks of the Chattahoochee River on Wednesday as a gift from the University to the people of the Chattahoochee Valley.
The statue, which stands more than seven feet tall, was created by internationally renowned Chinese sculptor, Dr. Huo Bao Zhu and is located on the Phenix City Riverwalk near the University's Phenix City Riverfront Campus.
A friend of Troy University, Huo Bao Zhu's work can be seen at all of the University's Alabama campuses, including the Phenix City Riverfront Campus in the form of the Trojan Warrior statue. Last week, the University dedicated the Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park on the Troy Campus that is home to 200 terracotta warriors created by the artist.
The Phoenix statue is meant to symbolize TROY's commitment to international education and represent a token of thanks for the support shown by the citizens of the Chattahoochee Valley.
"The Phoenix is a symbol of rebirth and it does reflect what has happened in this community," said Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor. "Troy University has enjoyed a long relationship with the city of Phenix City, and it was through that partnership that we were able to utilize this land for our Riverfront Campus. This Phoenix is a gift from the artist Huo Bao Zhu and Troy University as a tribute to the people of this community and is a reflection of the rebirth we are seeing here along the river."
State Rep. Chris Blackshear said the statue is significant because of the transformation that has occurred on the Phenix City riverfront.
"It has been amazing to see the vision and the growth that has happened on this riverfront," Blackshear said. "This seven-foot sculpture should remind us of our past here in Phenix City, but it should also serve as a light to the future as we continue to move this city forward."
Phenix City Mayor Eddie Lowe expressed gratitude to the University for the gift of the statue.
"Art has a way of bringing people together, and we are grateful for our partnership with Troy University and what we see taking place here along our riverfront," Lowe said. "We appreciate Troy University for sharing this with the people of Phenix City, Russell County and all of the Chattahoochee Valley."
Dr. Dave White, Vice Chancellor of the Phenix City Campus, said the gift of the statue was made by the University in gratitude for the support offered by the city and its citizens.
"The Riverfront Campus was the beginning of economic revitalization of the river, and now what we have in the Phoenix is a symbol of that revitalization and rebirth," Dr. White said. "It is the first piece of public art that the city has on the Riverwalk, and we think it will be the beginning of a public art project that will extend up and down the river. This is also an acknowledgement that we are a part of an international community, and we need to be citizens of the world."