Take a drive down South Main Street in Statesboro and you will notice the picturesque six-foot-tall “Bulloch County Family Tree” eagle sculpture perched on a colorful walnut tree outside the Statesboro Regional Library. Created by Scott Foxx, a graduate student in the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art (BFSDoArt), the artwork is the eighth addition to the local public art project called Eagle Nation on Parade.
“I wanted a design that would allow for a lot of flexibility and additions without compromising the core of the sculpture,” Foxx said. “I decided on a tree because of the 400-year-old walnut tree that once stood outside the Bulloch County courthouse. Legend has it that the tree was planted by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and I felt it created a nice visual metaphor.”
The master of fine arts student collaborated with the Bulloch County Historical Society to create the eagle that incorporates the pictorial history of important Bulloch County people and landmarks. The county’s education, arts and cultural histwory are featured on one wing, and businesses, buildings and infrastructure are represented on the other. An emblem of the Creek Nation is displayed on the Eagle’s neck.
Painted in a folk-art style to pay tribute to artist Howard Finster, the fiberglass sculpture is sealed with automobile varnish so that it can withstand the outdoor elements since it will be on permanent display.
Foxx said it is gratifying that his artwork will be used as a teaching tool and to promote local history. In addition, he designed a coloring book about the Eagle for children.
“I created the coloring book in order to inspire children to study the details of the Eagle,” Foxx said. “The activities can all be completed by studying the information on the wings and base. The booklet also contains a family tree to teach the kids about creating their own historical document.”
He hopes the coloring book and the sculpture will serve as a teaching tool for years to come. “Bulloch County, for many children, and probably some adults, is seen as little more than the place where Georgia Southern is. Through this project, I learned a great deal about the history of the county and discovered numerous people and events that have made it a significant hub of Southern history dating back to before the Civil War,” he said.
“I hope that viewers, especially children, will realize they are a part of a larger Southern history and not just that little town between Savannah and Macon.” Foxx said he gained valuable experience from the project. “Winning this commission gave me the opportunity to create a public sculpture which is important in the development of any master of fine arts candidate,” he said. “Working on this eagle gave me professional practice that a lot of students never get.”
The Savannah, Ga., native acknowledged he has been inspired and pushed by “amazing faculty” in the BFSDoArt and will pursue plans to become a college teacher and a working studio artist when he graduates in May.
“I have painted more in the past three years than I did in 10 cumulatively,” he said. ”Great professors such as Jessica Burke, Derek Larson and Marc Mitchell have encouraged and pushed me. They won’t let you get away with lazy work, and I really respect that. They have such high expectations.”