A new statue of the Western Illinois University mascot was recently dedicated at the WIU-QC campus in Moline.
The student designer was there to explain why the Rocky the Bulldog’s surface bears everything from blue paint to Braille.
“When I submitted my design, I wasn’t expecting to get picked, so it was really nice that they picked mine,” Edgar Rodriguez said. “I was designing it right after the election when there was a lot of division. I wanted to focus on people coming together.”
Rodriguez, a senior emergency management major, chose the theme of “The WIU Melting Pot” when submitting his design, which incorporates the word “unity” in a variety of languages — as well as in Braille — and a chain of people holding hands around the world.
Scott Brouette, assistant director of Student Services at WIU-QC, purchased the statue during a Rocky on Parade scholarship fundraiser in the Fall 2017 semester. The dedication was held Wednesday in coordination with the placement of a permanent plaque recognizing the donation.
Rodriguez, originally from Venezuela, is a U.S. Army veteran and came to WIU with his family from Washington, D.C. to enroll in the emergency management program. He designed the statue when he was taking an art class to fulfill some required credits.
Brouette noted that the message of inclusion and diversity prompted him to make the purchase.
“We do have a very diverse population here in the Quad Cities, and this new Rocky facing the river kind of ‘tops off’ the front of our campus, so to speak. I just thought it was a great way to show our diversity.”
An existing gold Rocky mascot is located behind the Quad Cities Complex and greets visitors walking between the Complex and Riverfront Hall.
Presented through the College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC), Rocky on Parade is a public art project that celebrates the University’s traditions, strengthens the unity of campus and community, and supports the Rocky on Parade Department of Art student scholarship. For more information, visit WIU’s page.