Two Artists Create Sculptures for Two Bicentennials

Photo of Craig Wedderspoon by Allison Grant.
Professor Craig Wedderspoon

Two bicentennial bashes require twice as much artistic input! This year, two artists, UA professor of art Craig Wedderspoon and sculptor Caleb O’Connor are creating permanent sculptural programs to commemorate both the state of Alabama and the city of Tuscaloosa bicentennial celebrations.

Tuscaloosa was founded on Dec. 13, 1819, just one day before the territory of Alabama became a state on Dec. 14, 1819. For the state of Alabama’s 200th birthday party, Wedderspoon and O’Connor have designed and cast sixteen bronze relief panels – eight in sculptural relief and eight in text – for Montgomery’s Bicentennial Park to be unveiled Saturday, Dec., 14, 2019. Tuscaloosa artist Caleb O’Connor created eight bronze relief panels illustrating eight significant events in the story of Alabama’s statehood. Eight more panels of text narrating the details of each scene will accompany the sculptures. Wedderspoon designed and will be installing the sixteen panels’ bases, while supervising the casting process. Assistant Professor Jonathan Cumberland also joined the team to work on text graphics for the state project.

two sculptors working on a large chunk of white marble
Alexandra Leigh and Caleb O’Connor (right) working on the bust of Dr. Peter Bryce.

Meanwhile, back in Tuscaloosa, Wedderspoon is also working with O’Connor on the City of Tuscaloosa Bicentennial sculpture complex to be unveiled at Manderson Landing on the Black Warrior River, Friday, Dec. 13. O’Connor is creating a life-size statue of the goddess Minerva, who symbolizes the University’s contribution to Tuscaloosa’s history. Wedderspoon’s sculpture, “The Walkway,” is a 110-foot long timeline of the highlights of Tuscaloosa’s history from 1819 to 2019. His design recreates the meandering route the Black Warrior River runs from Demopolis to Tuscaloosa. The river’s “twists and turns, ebbs and flows have mirrored our city’s past, “declared the Bicentennial organizers.

Wedderspoon and O’Connor have collaborated on other sculpture projects around the state. O’Connor created the statue of Willie Mays at Regions Field in Birmingham and that of retired Chancellor Robert Witt at the Presidential Village on UA campus, while Wedderspoon supervised the casting of both works at UA’s art foundry facilities.

For more information about the degree programs in the Department of Art and Art History, go to this page or contact the department at (205) 348-5967.