Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Scarlet Smith
PORTALES—Eastern New Mexico University has added a sculpture of Dr. Jack Williamson, emeritus professor of English and world-renowned pioneer science fiction writer, to its campus.
The bronze bust was donated to ENMU on March 10 from Xian Jiao Tong University in the Shanxi Province of the Peoples Republic of China. The artist, Jia Chuofei, sculptor of the Williamson bust and professor at Xian Jiao Tong University, along with Huo Bao Zhu, president of Shaanxi Five Rings Sculpture Art Co., Ltd., visited ENMU in March to confer about the details of installing the sculpture with Mike Nuckols, ENMU building services manager.
With the translation help of Dr. Zhiming Liu, and his wife, Jane Liu, Nuckols was able to ask questions regarding the installation. Nuckols said, "Many hours of thought and preparation went into mapping out the installation of the bust."
The bust alone weighs nearly 350 pounds, took five strong men to lift it to its pedestal and seven days to install. Jeff Watts, ENMU's concrete finisher, said, "To install the sculpture took nearly 2,300 pounds of concrete per square yard to fill a 7 by 4 foot, 20-inch-deep footing with steel reinforcements." The bust is surrounded by a bronze square arch with the titles of Dr. Williamson's award-winning novels, such as, Legion of Space, Stonehenge Gate, The Black Sun and Darker Than You Think.
According to Nuckols and Watts, the science fiction bird facing Dr. Williamson is made of mechanical steel parts. The head of the bird is a lifter out of a gasoline engine; the beak is the jaw off a vice grip; the body is a steel wok hammered to shape the form of the bird; the feet are a mechanical chain used for cutting steel; and the neck is the swivel for a socket set with a mechanical spring. Dr. Williamson says, "The mechanical bird is a symbol of the scientific imagination."
Dr. Williamson says of his latest honor "This is like winning the lottery or being struck by lightning."