On Saturday, February 11, 2012, approximately forty people applauded as Shirley Wiley unveiled “The Pursuit of Knowledge,” the first installation on campus from Georgia Southern University’s public art project Eagle Nation on Parade. The statue was placed along the pedestrium on the east side of the Zach S. Henderson Library, overlooking the lake.
Artist Rebecca Hampton decorated the eagle on a commission supported by the late Vera McElveen Ireland’s gift to the Library’s Naomi Davis McElveen Art Fund. The McElveen Art Fund was established in 1987 by Hassie McElveen McLendon, former campus library director from 1946 to 1970, in honor of her mother. Vera McElveen Ireland was Mrs. McLendon’s sister, and Shirley Wiley is Naomi Davis McElveen’s granddaughter.
Ms. Hampton’s design pays tribute to the everlasting nature of books. She was born in Jacksonville, Florida and attended the Savannah Arts Academy. She graduated cum laude with a degree in painting from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Ms. Hampton resides in Hinesville, Georgia and works as a freelance artist.
The Eagle Nation on Parade public art project salutes the University’s traditions, celebrates the unity of campus and community, and supports student scholarships and research initiatives.
In her introductory remarks, Mrs. Wiley stated “This is the perfect location for this design. It will be a significant addition to this landscape and a reminder that this institution, and this building in particular, is dedicated to the continuing pursuit of knowledge. Many people will walk by this eagle and be reminded of the proud history of the Eagle Nation.”