Written By Robert Lofton
MBU has a new arrival, an 8-foot-6-inch-tall Spartan statue made from bronze and weighing 450 pounds.
Although the Spartan arrived on campus only a few days ago, it was part of the Sports and Recreation Complex design from the beginning, making the idea for the Spartan more than three years old.
“That entrance plaza had originally been drawn with some sort of Spartan,” said Director of Development Jon Vestal, who was instrumental in planning and raising money for the statue. “That pedestal was originally designed for that Spartan.”
Although it was not the only possibility, choosing the Spartan made sense due to the fact that it is the mascot and symbol of Missouri Baptist University. It was officially unveiled and dedicated Thursday, Sept. 20, after Chapel in the SREC.
“I think it only apropos that we have a Spartan above any other options that we could have come up with,” said Vestal.
An artist named Robert Work designed and sculpted the statue at Art Castings, a foundry in Loveland, Colo.
Vestal and Keith Ross, the senior vice president for institutional advancement, interviewed artists to find one who came up with the right design for MBU.
“Myself and Keith Ross did some pretty extensive interviews with artists both locally and nationally, to find an artist that really understood our vision for what we wanted for the campus, and also really could communicate what being a Spartan is all about in a piece of artwork,” said Vestal.
The design was decided on by a two-step process.
“We gave them some cues regarding our logo, our history, our Christian faith, and a few other things, and we asked all of the artists to come up with some concepts for the artwork,” said Vestal.
In the next part, a committee decided what artist had submitted the best concept.
“After those concepts were thrown out there, we had a small committee that looked at those prospective designs, and they actually chose a design that the president approved,” said Vestal.
Once the design was decided upon, a mockette 18 inches tall was made that now sits in the president’s office.
“That way, you can really get a feel for what it’s going to look like in three dimensions, and it also was a tool to help raise money for the Spartan,” said Vestal.
The Spartan’s shield bears a cross, an intentional element of the design.
“We didn’t want it to be so far out there, but we did want to at least show that we had thought about it,” said Vestal.
Vestal also pointed out the carefully designed way the Spartan is standing.
“You may also notice that the position, or the stance of the Spartan, is also looking heavenward and that’s also by design,” said Vestal.
The total time of the statue project, beginning from the artist interviews, was about one and a half years, and the actual construction of the statue took six to seven months. It was Work’s first statue project of that size.
While the Spartan statue was not cheap, donations alone paid for the statue.
“The good news is that through my office, and through the Alumni Association, we were able to raise 100 percent of the funds for the statue, so no budgeted money or tuition dollars were spent,” said Vestal.
The fundraising began immediately after design, and ran for about one year.
In the end, it’s not about the Spartan simply as an object, but what it will mean for the campus, students and alumni.
“I feel like the Spartan will be a source of inspiration for all the past Spartans and all the future Spartans to come, and it will greet all those that come into the Sports and Recreation Complex for athletic competitions, and they’ll certainly know that MBU is the home of the Spartans,” said Vestal.