'Peace' Sculpture by Native American Artist Dedicated at Adohi Hall

The "Peace" sculpture was donated by Richard Anderson and John Berry.
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The "Peace" sculpture was donated by Richard Anderson and John Berry.

A sculpture by Native American artist Retha Walden Gambaro was donated to the U of A by Richard Anderson and John Berry and dedicated during a small ceremony on March 28 outside of Adohi Hall on the south side of campus.

Adohi is a Cherokee word for "woods." This name honors the Cherokee who passed nearby the site on the Benge/Trail of Tears between 1837 and 1839. A Trail of Tears marker is about 1,500 feet south of Adohi at Stadium Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. This sculpture adds to the increased awareness of the Cherokee connection on the U of A campus that has happened over the past two decades, including the yearly Commemorative Walk to the Trail of Tears marker, the Tsa La Gi Bike Park, the naming of Adohi and the Cherokee language program.

The name Adohi is also a reference to the sustainably sourced wood used in the hall's cross-laminated timber construction, the first residence hall using that style of construction in the United States.

Summer Rae Wilkie, co-adviser of the U of A Native American Students Association and youth coordinator for the Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initiative, provided a land acknowledgement to start the dedication. Alex Davis, president of the Native American Student Association RSO, and several students attended the event, along with student affairs staff and donor Richard Anderson and his partner, John Berry.

Retha Walden Gambaro, who died in 2013, was a Native American, born in Oklahoma of “Creek and British ancestry” in her own words. She began sculpting in her 50s and created hundreds of original sculptures.  Working in clay, stone, cast bronze, copper, wood, and any other medium that could be shaped into a work of art. Most of her pieces are in patinated bronze, which she took great pride in and was known for her mastery of patina.

"In student affairs, we want to affirm the vibrant presence and importance of our Indigenous community members who are teaching, learning and living on our campus today, and in sharing this artwork with our campus community, we seek connection with that past and present," said Jeremy Battjes, vice chancellor for student affairs.

The title of the sculpture is simply "Peace" and features a dove in two hands. The 33-inch-high bronze, dated 1997, has patination imitating finely carved and polished stone and is an example from Gambaro's "Attitudes of Prayer" series.

“The sculpture is beautiful,” Wilkie said. “I love that placing it in the courtyard for the Adohi Residence Hall contributes to a constellation of Indigenous touchpoints in that part of campus and town, including the Trail of Tears Memorial, marking the final stop before Indian Territory for the Benge detachment of the Trail of Tears. Twelve hundred people camped near that spot on their forced removal in 1839.”

Berry said this donation is a learning opportunity for the campus community. "This is a reminder that the campus is built on the land of Indigenous peoples and that, like other marginalized communities, the Indigenous students and their identity should be supported and celebrated," Berry said.

Anderson got the idea for the donation after meeting some Native American students. "John and I were at a tailgate party, and we were introduced to someone from the Native American Student Association," Anderson said. "That's what gave me the idea for campus to be the perfect home for 'Peace.' Being on the Trail of Tears makes it even more special as it's home."

"I met Richard Anderson and John Berry about a year ago, and their Razorback spirit and commitment to student success through access, well-being and belonging has been evident in their support of two student affairs scholarships, the PRIDE in Education Scholarship, founded by John and Richard, and through the Meal Plan Scholarship," Battjes said. "They have also supported the on-campus food pantry and Lavender Society RSO."

The sculpture is on the west side of Adohi Hall between Buildings A and B. Mary Peacock, coordinator of the Adohi Creative Community, created the plaque, and the University Housing facilities team installed the sculpture.

About the Division of Student Affairs: The Division of Student Affairs supports the whole student by cultivating transformative experiences and environments that promote student well-being, sense of community, and success. We prioritize student access, well-being, and belonging, post-graduation success, and building a strong organizational culture.

Contacts

Scott Flanagin, executive director for communications
Division of Student Affairs
479-575-6785, sflanagi@uark.edu

John Thomas, director of media relations
University Relations
479-575-7430, jfthomas@uark.edu

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