Professors' Commemorative Statue Unveiled on Founder's Day

October 12, 2012

Pictured L to R:  Kyle Chipman, Department of Art, and Jacqueline Willis and Fisher Stolz, design and construction artists Department of Art.

By Brigitte Graf '13

With all of the excitement of Homecoming week, many students, faculty and fans are feeling full of Bradley pride. However, there is one event this year that holds a special meaning to all-unveiling of a commemorative statue for A.J. Robertson, the University's former athletic director and coach of three sports.

The bronze sculpture has been in the works for about 16 months and is the joint effort between several Bradley members.

The two main artists who conceptualized and constructed the piece are Hal "Fisher" Stolz and Jacqueline Willis, both professors in the art department.

Stolz sat on the committee during Bradley's Centennial celebration in 1997 when the bronze statue of University founder Lydia Moss Bradley was commissioned. Through his relationship with the Executive Director of Donor Relations, Kathy Fuller, and his familiarity with that project, Stolz felt he had the resources, staff and knowledge required to tackle this assignment.

"I was confident that we could do the whole thing here on campus," Stolz said. "After showing [Fuller] a few samples of things I had done, the administration had decided to award the project to me in the sculpture area."

The long process of construction began with research back in May of 2011. Stolz and his crew began putting together a framework to build off of, using a life-sized model as well as photographs of Robertson. The sculpture itself was made from molds and casts constructed on campus and has Robertson in baseball attire standing with his right leg propped up on a bench.

"I am extremely happy with the final result," Stolz said. "We showed the full clay model to [A.J.'s son] Corky Robertson and several others of the Robertson family and they were very happy with the likeness."

Among the many others who contributed to this project was Kyle Chipman, a Bradley graduate, who is the founder and owner of the Hot Scotsmen art foundry in Peoria.

"Kyle's expertise and experience doing life-sized bronze in the professional field was very valuable," Stolz said. "His help in several steps of the process was very important."

The unveiling of the statue will take place on Friday during the Founder's Day ceremony by the Renaissance Coliseum before members of the administration and the Robertson family.

"It was an honor for us to be able to work on someone who is such an important figure for our university in our history," Stolz said. "A lot of schools couldn't have done this, and we take pride in the fact that we were able to."