‘Astera’ sculpture honors Woman’s College legacy

Posted on October 06, 2023

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Woman’s College was known as the nation’s top public college for women. Its legacy of excellence and opportunity is now on full display at the Woman’s College Tribute.

Emilie Mills ’62, ’65 MFA and Sarah Shoffner ’62, ’64 MS, ’77 PhD
At ribbon-cutting, l-r: Beth Fischer, Betsy Oakley ’69, James Dinh, Kurt Melvin, Dr. Sarah Shoffner, Emilie W. Mills, Michael Stutz, Molly Brake ’62, Agnes Price ’62, Geraldine Fox ’63
JoAnne Smart Drane ’60 with panel of herself with Bettye Ann Davis Tillman ’60.

Betsy Oakley ’69, Board of Trustees chair, told those gathered at May’s dedication on Stone Lawn, “The WC alumnae were bold pioneers who embraced the educational opportunities they were given – and they worked for them,” she said. “They were trailblazers. WC graduates have made an enormous impact on our region, our state, our nation, and indeed the world.”

Sculptor Michael Stutz, with landscape artist James Dinh nearby, said the Tribute is envisioned as a space to gather, to relax, perhaps to reflect.

“We see it as a meeting place,” Emilie Mills ’62, ’65 MFA had earlier noted. Sarah Shoffner ’62, ’64 MS, ’77 PhD added they hope students will meet their friends at the spot. “It’s a place for community.”

Image panels derived from Woman’s College-era Pine Needles yearbooks are featured. The brick walls were designed to hold seasonal flowers. “Conceptually, the three garland walls relate to when they used to make daisy garlands here on campus,” Stutz said.

The sculpture is named “Astera.” “’Astera’ is from the Latin word Asteraceae, which is the family in which daisies are,” he said, referencing the campus’ flower. “Also ‘astera’ means ‘star.’”

The sculpture is made out of strips of bronze – it’s woven, he added. “It’s very strong, but it’s also very open. There’s openings within it. I hope that gives the viewer a chance to make their own determination about what they’re seeing. You can actually go inside the sculpture, look out through her eyes.”

See UNCG Magazine feature on Woman’s College excellence.

By Mike Harris, UNCG Magazine editor
Photography by Sean Norona

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