"I Am the Way" Sculpture Completes Summerour Hall Renovations
The newest addition to Summerour Hall, home to Southern's School of Education and Psychology, was recently installed and marks the end to four years of work renovating the structure. Crafted from clay and covered in bronze, the sculpture displays Jesus kneeling next to a girl on a bench while pointing at the open Bible in her hands.
“This is the last project for the building, and I think it’s perfect,” said John McCoy, dean for the School of Education and Psychology. “The theme of the sculpture, ‘I Am the Way,’ is really what drives the School of Education and Psychology. It’s all about pointing our students toward Jesus.”
The statue is meant to portray Jesus as a teacher for those who accept his guidance. Because reading the Bible can be a challenge for some, Gregory Johnson, sculptor of the statue, embraced the idea of Jesus acting as a personal coach.
When McCoy originally approached Johnson about the project, the artist was enthusiastic at the prospect of creating a biblical piece, but task of deciding how to portray Jesus was daunting since the Bible makes minimal mention of his appearance. But ultimately, those details pale in comparison to the reminder of divine presence in our daily lives.
“While He may not physically come visit students in their dorm rooms, He’s there nonetheless,” Johnson said.
Renovation HistorySummerour Hall renovations began in 2011; the building was more than 40 years old and needed both cosmetic and structural improvements. But during the process of making “simple” changes, the vision expanded as faculty, administrators, and donors saw the potential for something greater—both in a building and in the students.
As generous gifts from friends of the university unexpectedly came in, the budget—and the plans—expanded. In the end, those additional resources meant that more than 7,000 square feet of space could be added to the structure, and beautiful extras, such as the sculpture, became a reality in the new Summerour Hall.