Editor's note: This story is part of Southwest Michigan Second Wave's On the Ground Battle Creek series.
A bronze statue of a young girl holding books in one hand and a globe of the world in the other now stands sentinel over the Kellogg Community College campus as a tribute to the power of education to transform the lives of all women.
The statue, named Hope, was commissioned to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle Creek branch of the American Association of University Women
, says Kay Calley-Martin, co-chairperson of the Centennial Legacy Committee of the AAUW Branch.
Getting a closer look at "Hope." The statue was commissioned to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle Creek branch of the American Association of University Women.
“We’ve been waiting since 2017 for this day to come,” Calley-Martin said during a ceremony on Monday to unveil the statue which sits on the corner of North and Roosevelt avenues, next to the Linear Path and just south of the new Kellogg Community College sign. “It’s been a journey for us and our statue.”
The name of the overall project to commission and install the statue was titled “What’s Next World?” says Kathy Shaw, co-chair with Calley-Martin.
“That’s the question she appears to be asking as she looks out over the KCC campus with the globe in her hand,” Shaw says. “Having an education is part of that equation.”
The statue was created by Paula Blincoe, who grew up in Battle Creek. She attended Harper Creek High School and KCC. It is the second piece she has created for an organization in her hometown. Her first piece, a bas relief, is located in the lobby of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Blincoe, who now lives in Denton, Texas, also has entered her work in the 2013 and 2016 Art Prize
in Grand Rapids.
Of the KCC statue, Blincoe says, “This vision of a young woman holding a model of the earth aloft came to me as a visual aid — all paths are possible and there's a need to have thought and education to accomplish the journey.”
As an affiliate college of the AAUW, KCC President Dr. Adrien Bennings said, following the unveiling, that she is “honored that the local AAUW branch chose KCC” as the location for the statue.
“It’s more than just a physical statue,” Bennings says. “It’s indicative of where we want to go. The AAUW is about equity for all girls and women.”
Bennings’ predecessor, Mark O’Connell, and Teresa Durham, executive director of the KCC Foundation, laid the literal foundation for the location of the statue after suggesting the college’s North End Gateway.
Shaw says members of the Centennial Legacy Committee unanimously agreed.
Plans for the installation of a statue at KCC were first announced during a formal dinner in 2017 to celebrate the local AAUW’s 100th anniversary.
“The committee members had never commissioned a bronze statue before so the learning curve was pretty steep, including raising funds to pay the artist and the foundry,” Shaw says.
Brenda Hunt, President and CEO of the Battle Creek Community Foundation and a member of the local AAUW branch, helped with a Community Project Fund that aided the committee in raising enough dollars to bring the vision to reality, Shaw says.
In February, the clay model of the statue went to a foundry in Dallas and was completed, but couldn’t be transported to Michigan due to COVID-19, Calley-Martin says.
“Hope finally made her way to KCC in July but her pad and landscape weren’t quite ready so the maintenance crew at KCC made sure she was safe and adopted her over the summer until she could take her place overlooking the campus,” Calley-Martin says.
“We invite the community to visit 'Hope’ at her new home at KCC and take time to ponder and reflect on the message and vision she portrays.”