OBU recently began work to prepare for the placement of an art project on the southwest corner of Kickapoo and MacArthur. The project will require the relocation of the "OBU" hedge and will include a new sign, identifying the campus and welcoming visitors to OBU, along with the much anticipated installation of three life-sized Bison sculptures created by artist Bill Secunda.
The idea for the art project came out of the planning stages of the Kickapoo Street renovation project, including input from the city of Shawnee, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and OBU. The street project reshaped the intersection of Kickapoo and MacArthur on the northeast corner of the OBU campus, according to Randy Smith, OBU executive vice president for business and administrative services. The elimination of the curved turn onto southbound Kickapoo from eastbound MacArthur created an ideal space for a project like this. It also left the current OBU signage “off center” from the new corner.
"A suggestion was made to create some form of art during discussions of the Kickapoo Street project," Smith said. "OBU, the city of Shawnee and the state agreed that artwork on this site would enhance the aesthetic of the intersection. We all realized this would be a prime spot for OBU to develop some type of art to highlight OBU and the city."
One portion of the project has already been underway, with Secunda creating the life-size Bison sculptures using his signature technique of thousands of welded masonry nails.
As part of the project, OBU recently pruned the “OBU” hedge, which has long stood at the intersection, to stimulate growth and to ensure it would continue to thrive with the reworking of the intersection. Unfortunately, during that process, it was determined that the hedge, which had been allowed to outgrow its ideal size in the past, was not likely to thrive into the future. The university also discovered another fact.
“We recently learned that this type of hedge, which is a privet, is now considered an invasive species in the state of Oklahoma, meaning it is not native to this area and can be threatening to other native plants under the right conditions,” Smith said. “We trimmed them to save them as part of the art project, and discovered they were in worse shape than we thought.”
Their poor condition, as well as their status as an invasive species, led the university to rework the art project plan, which now includes relocating the hedge. The university also determined that the rock planter in which the hedge is growing is likewise in poor condition, leading to the decision to build a new structure and sign for the intersection to accompany the installation of the Bison sculptures. Smith expects the entire project to be completed by sometime this summer.Smith said the university will plant a new “OBU” hedge at the corner of University and Airport, off the southwest corner of the J.P. Chance Track Building. The university will ultimately move the “Oklahoma Baptist University” wrought iron sign, a gift from the class of 1935, to another location on campus.