East meets West

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, November 3, 2016

The International Arts Center brings together arts and culture from both the East and the West. Its creation was spearheaded by Janice Hawkins, who envisioned a place where people can find inspiration and “experience the world.”

The International Arts Center brings together arts and culture from both the East and the West. Its creation was spearheaded by Janice Hawkins, who envisioned a place where people can find inspiration and “experience the world.”

There are 18 ways to say awesome and it would take all 18 and then some to describe the Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park & International Arts Center on the campus of Troy University.

Magnificent. Incredible. Amazing. Astounding. Impressive. Astounding. Even “Wow!’ were just a few of the one-word responses to the International Arts Center at the news media conference Thursday morning.

Troy University will formerly open the Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park and International Arts Center at 4 p.m. today with a dedication and concert inside the park’s amphitheater. The event is free and open to the public.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

In speaking to the media corps Thursday, Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. referenced Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision ….”

Hawkins said the vision for an arts park and arts center at Troy University originated with First Lady Janice Hawkins.

“She had a vision beyond a parking lot where this building stood,” Hawkins said of his wife. “People shape buildings and buildings shape lives. To watch what this building has become has been exciting and exhilarating to watch. To know what it will become is even more exciting.”

Hawkins said he and the First Lady would like to thank all the donors, members of the university’s board of trustees, artists and all who saw the possibilities in what was once undeveloped land on campus.

“This park and center will transform the lives of students and visitors for years to come,” he said. “As Alabama’s International University, it’s only appropriate that students and visitors can come here to dance, to sing, to learn, to find inspiration and to experience the world.”

The International Arts Center houses a permanent gallery featuring the works of internationally acclaimed artist and Troy native Nall Hollis and the Huo Bao Zhu Gallery which will house a revolving gallery of art and host exhibits. The arts center also has a student educational space.

Janice Hawkins echoed her husband’s appreciation to the many whose contributions made the International Arts Center a reality.

“It took many building blocks to make it happen,” the First Lady said. “And this park and arts center are truly where East meets West.”

Hawkins cited Nall’s donation of his artwork and the installation, “Violata Pax Dove,” and Xian, China artist Huo Bao Zhu’s donation of terracotta warriors and other statuaries around campus as blocks that connect East and West.

Janice Hawkins said she is extremely proud of the faculty and student involvement with the cultural arts project.

“It speaks highly of the university’s dedication to the arts,” she said.

Pam Allen, chair of the university’s art department, said, when she walked into the International Arts Center for the first time, it was like walking into the world of Thomas Kinkade,  “Painter of light.”

“Everything was filled with light. It was pulsating,” Allen said. “We have needed this, and we finally have a wonderful place to create and to exhibit.”

Allen said the Huo Bao Zhu Gallery is hosting The Heritage Exhibit, which features the artwork of artists who taught at Troy University, including the late Alice Thornton.

“The Heritage Exhibit brings everybody home,” Allen said.

Chancellor Hawkins and the First Lady unveiled a commissioned piece of artwork title “Troy: A Portrait of the University,” by local artist Elana Hagler.

The inspiration for the artwork was the 1930s landscape design for Troy State Teachers College, now Troy University, by the Olmsted Brothers, an influential United States landscape architectural firm that designed New York’s Center Park and the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C.  Hagler incorporated several of the university’s icons into the painting, including its connection with the international world.

The International Art Center also features “Warriors Unearthed,” a collection of and interpretive center for the university’s 200 replica terracotta warriors, believed to be the largest such collection of statuaries outside China.

The replica terracotta warriors are a feature of the Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park. The park also features an amphitheater and statuaries.

Thursday’s news media event also featured the dedication of Nall’s centerpiece work, “Violata Pax Dove” on the International Arts Center plaza.

The International Arts Center will be open from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday. The public is encouraged to visit the center and view the park.