For the next several months, visitors to the University of Memphis may feel as though
they are on safari: 100 “tigers” were released on campus Sept. 10 and will be on the
prowl through the end of the year. They are part of the U of M Alumni Association’s
“Tigers Around Town” centennial celebration campaign.
|Dr. Robert Canady used a stained glass theme for the tiger statue he designed as part
of the U of M Alumni Association’s centennial celebration campaign. One hundred tiger
statues were uniquely designed to designate the 100 years the U of M has been open.
They will be displayed on campus through the end of the year before being placed in
various locations around the city.
“Each tiger represents one of the 100 years (1912-2012) the University has been open,”
says Tammy Hedges, executive director of the Alumni Association. “A historical fact
about the U of M for that year appears on a plaque that accompanies each statue.”
The Association offered 100 of the uniquely designed, life-size tiger statues to alumni,
businesses and fans for sponsorship. Each tiger statue, based on the measurements
of mascot TOM II, is made of fiberglass and stands about 6 feet high, 3 feet wide
and weighs 600 pounds. The tiger design was created by U of M senior art education
major Brooke Ebersole. After being displayed on campus, the statues will appear at
locations throughout the greater Memphis area beginning in early 2012.
Alumni Association coordinator Alexa Begonia says sponsors chose a year based on when
they were married, had children or graduated from the U of M, among other things.
While the pose for each tiger statue is the same, some of the Mid-South’s finest artists
showed off their talents to make each one distinctive. They include Jamie McMahan,
NJ Woods, Pam Cobb and Dr. Robert Canady.
Canady, a noted stained glass artist, chose to pay tribute to the U of M’s Office
of the President through his tiger statue. He used hundreds of stained glass-type
designs on the tiger statue to contrast with its fierce pose in demonstrating how
a University president has to be determined in making decisions yet diplomatic.
“It’s very symbolic of the leadership and the position of the president,” says Canady,
who is married to U of M President Shirley Raines. “They have to be strong and forceful
at times, but also keep an open mind.”
Each stone on the base of the tiger statue has the name of a member of the President’s
Council or a major event that has occurred during Dr. Raines’ administration, such
as the creation of Tiger Lane or the new University Center.
Another important element that played into the design scheme was that Canady wanted
to “keep it obvious that it is a tiger.”
Canady is known for his stained glass windows, having donated several to area churches,
including Wrights Chapel in Arlington, Freedom’s Chapel in Parkway Village and the
Wesley Foundation Chapel, which is located a block from the U of M.
Other artists used images of Memphis for their designs in an effort to showcase the
heritage of the U of M and the area.
“We want people to see what an asset the University is and show what the U of M means
to the community,” says Mark Long, past president of the Alumni Association and an
alumnus who helped develop the idea for “Tigers Around Town.”
— by Laura Fenton