Two years ago, Claflin University art professor and sculptor Dr. Kod Igwe pondered the best way to represent the city he has called home for the past 20 years.
He was inspired to sculpt "Revivification," an abstract work of art symbolizing the City of Orangeburg, its coming to life and resurgence.
"It is a continuation of what the mayor and the council and the people of Orangeburg have done," he said. "We still need to do more."
Igwe's sculpture is a part of a landscape beautification project unveiled by the City of Orangeburg Parks and Recreation Department Wednesday evening at the Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center.
The sculpture was dedicated to Orangeburg City Council.
Igwe explained that at the top of the sculpture there are seven finger-like extensions. He says each features a precious stone from his native Nigeria.
The seven extensions symbolize each letter of Claflin and the stones symbolize the precious and important contribution the university has made to the city.
The snakelike grey body of the sculpture symbolizes trees, honoring Orangeburg's designation as "The Garden City."
Through the entire length of the sculpture, extension-like fingers, also adorned with stones, extend symbolizing Orangeburg's expansion and outgrowth.
A dedication plaque acknowledges City Council for "their priorities in embracing noble achievements" and enhancing the quality of life of Orangeburg citizens.
The plaque goes on to state, "May the shared spirit of revivification always serve as a symbol of the God-given potential where humanity continues to gain sights of the eternal."
Orangeburg Mayor Paul Miller said the sculpture fits with the city's revitalization efforts.
"This gives a nice new setting to the front of the Arts Center," Miller said. "I want to accept this treasure that we will have for many, many years to come."
Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center Executive Director Beth Thomas said the sculpture and landscaping give another attractive entrance to the gardens.
"It is beautiful," she said. "I think the design is wonderful. We have really a pathway from the parking to the building and you are attracted to the sculptures. They are a focal point when you see the Fine Arts Center. They really guide you into the Fine Arts Center."
Joyce Smith praised Igwe's work, which she has been quite fond of for the past six years.
"This is a new, fine addition to Orangeburg and I know that I am grateful," Smith said. "Hopefully, it will bring more people back. We have a good foundation in terms of art here. By having this sculpture built here instead of people going outside places to view art ... they will know that they will not have to move too far away from home to be a part of that art community."
Smith said the sculpture is perfect for Orangeburg.
"There are a lot of changes going on in Orangeburg," she said. "This is one more welcome change."
It is not the first sculpture the professor has dedicated to the city.
In 1998, Igwe, who has been in Orangeburg since 1990, gave his first sculpture to Orangeburg, titled "The Garden City." He said the three-tiered work represented the physical, mental and spiritual life of the city.
Parks and Recreation Director Buster Smith said the new landscaping and Igwe's sculpture add color to Edisto Memorial Gardens.
"We felt so much development has been done in the rose garden area and around Centennial Park and that we needed to create another a nice, formal area at the other end of the gardens," Smith said. "We selected the front of the Arts Center. It is an important building to the gardens and also to our art community."
The project was funded through an $8,000 grant from the Dick Horne Foundation and about $2,000 from the city.
Work began on the landscape project earlier this year. City work crews installed a stamped sidewalk leading from the grass lot to the driveway in front of the Fine Arts Center. Different tree varieties, including Yoshino cherry trees, have been planted near the sidewalk, along with new plants and sod.
Incorporated in the sidewalk are two circular areas. One houses the existing marker honoring Margaret Williams, widow of the late state Sen. Marshall Williams, the other Igwe's sculpture.
Contact the writer: gzaleski @timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551.