Bronzed Cocky, desktop sized
By Chris Horn, 803-777-3687
Cocky, Carolina's fine-feathered friend and inimitable mascot, is destined to be immortalized in bronze.
Sculptor and USC alumnus Robert Allison, '78 art and '82 computer science, has created a one-third scale maquette that is the model for what eventually will be a life-sized statue of Cocky cast in bronze. The bronze maquette features Cocky jauntily posed on a bench with a stack of books by his side and is on display in the university's Visitor Center in McKissick.
The ultimate plan is to place the full-sized statue on campus as a focal point for visiting alumni and prospective students and their families.
"Cocky has been a beloved mascot since his introduction more than 30 years ago, and we think a permanent presence on campus will give fans and friends the opportunity to take pictures with him all of the time," said Denise Wellman, director of USC's Visitor Center who is heading the effort to immortalize the mascot in bronze.
Desktop-sized versions of the sculpture are now available for sale, and a portion of the proceeds will help support the full-scale bronze Cocky project. A color version of the desktop-scale model is $60 and a bronze-like version is $150; shipping fees will apply. You can order one here or request one by email.
About $2,500 in private funds have been raised so far to cover the $80,000 cost of creating and transporting the life-sized statue from a Colorado foundry. Alumni and friends of the university also have the opportunity to purchase bronze castings of the maquette-sized Cocky statue. Sale of these smaller versions will also support fundraising efforts.
Meet the artist
Robert Allison grew up in Columbia and earned two bachelor's degrees from Carolina: art in 1978 and computer science in 1982. After 15 years of writing computer software code, Allison followed his dream, moved his family to Colorado and became a full-time sculptor. His latest project? Creating a bronze statue of Cocky that will be located on campus.
When I was growing up, I would take weekly my allowance to Woolworth's in Richland Mall and use it to buy clay. Every summer when I was young our parents took us to Brookgreen Gardens (near Georgetown, S.C.). I really enjoyed seeing all the sculptures.
My wife always told me to quit my job and start sculpting. On my 42nd birthday I quit my job at Blue Cross/Blue Shield as a programmer and launched my career as a sculptor.
Sculpting is like a sport; if you don't do it all the time, you don't get better.
When I see Cocky, I think of USC and how proud I am of the university. When my kids were little, they couldn't have cared less about the football games. They were always looking for Cocky. You don't get to sculpt icons too often in your life. Cocky is an icon.
Selling yourself and marketing yourself is a struggle. That's the hard part for most artists.
I spent a lot of my time at Carolina in the old part of campus, in Sloan and the math building (LeConte). I hung around where Cocky's sculpture is going to be.
Nobody's going to be able to move Cocky. He's going to weigh 300 to 400 pounds, and he's going to have some stainless steel bars inside.
The hardest part of building Cocky is getting the scale right. Cocky's a little out of proportion from a sculpting standpoint. I know how big a person's head and hands and feet should be. Cocky's head is 36 inches in circumference. It's ridiculous. No offense to Cocky, but the only things that are natural size on him are his legs.
Having Cocky on campus means there will be an anchor for alumni when they come back to visit Carolina. My mother is ecstatic about me doing the Cocky statue. She lives at Still Hopes (Episcopal Retirement Community), and everybody there has probably heard about it from her.
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