ROCK HILL, S.C. - Winthrop University workers will add the finishing touches Friday to a new campus landmark.
A 12-foot tall eagle sculpture will be installed near the main entrance of the campus on Oakland Avenue. The sculpture is a gift from Charlotte N.C., businessman and philanthropist Irwin Belk, who contributed funds for the design and construction of the eagle. Belk also donated money for the university’s outdoor track which was named in his honor.
Cornelius, N.C., artist Jon Hair was commissioned by Belk to create the original piece of art. While the sculptor is known for his realistic designs, Hair created a more stylistic eagle for Winthrop based on the university logo. He will be present to help with the installation of the 3,000-pound symbolic mascot.
Hair worked on the Winthrop eagle for the past 18 months. The massive eagle, with its 12-foot wingspan, was cast in bronze at a foundry in Hawthorne, Calif., and then shipped to Santa Fe, N.M., for a process that resulted in a metallic gold finish. The eagle sculpture will sit on a nearly 20-foot-tall concrete and brick pedestal designed by Hair and built by Leitner Construction Company of Rock Hill.
Known for his monumental works, Hair has sculpted pieces for galleries, private collections, corporate offices and more than a dozen college campuses. In 2003, Hair was designated "Official Sculptor of the U.S. Olympic Team" and "Official Sculptor of the U.S. Olympic Committee." The Winthrop monument is the third Hair sculpture for a South Caroline higher education institution.