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ASU unveils iconic pitchfork statue at newly renovated Sun Devil Stadium

Going to a football game? Make sure to get your photo in front of the 'fork.
September 4, 2018

The bronze statue donated, created by ASU alums is a perfect place for fan photos

The pitchfork symbol is ubiquitous around Arizona State University, and now there is finally a sculpture of the iconic representation of the Sun Devils, unveiled last week.

The 6-foot, 3-inch-tall bronze pitchfork sits at the southeast entrance of the newly renovated Sun Devil Stadium, a symbol of school spirit and the perfect place for fan photos.

“We didn’t have anything like this, and we needed our emblem,” said Arthur Pearce II, a Mesa businessman and third-generation Sun Devil, who donated the statue.

Four years ago, Pearce came up with the idea of donating a statue to the stadium, and he had the perfect artist — Jeff Carol Davenport, an ASU alumna. Davenport had created the 2014 sculpture of Pearce’s grandfather, Zebulon Pearce, that sits in downtown Mesa. Zebulon Pearce The Zebulon Pearce Distinguished Teaching Award, named for him and established in 1971, honors teaching excellence in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU. played football at the Tempe Normal School — now ASU — in 1899, graduating with teaching credentials.

But when Pearce pitched the idea, Todd Graham, then the football coach at ASU, asked him if he would consider donating a statue of Pat Tillman instead, and Pearce agreed. Tillman was a student-athlete at ASU from 1994 to 1998, earning a degree in marketing, and then played football professionally with the Arizona Cardinals. Reacting to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tillman enlisted in the Army in May 2002. He died in Afghanistan in 2004.

Tillman’s legacy is a powerful influence on the ASU football team, whose members wear No. 42 on their uniforms every year.

So Davenport created the 7-and-half-foot-tall statue of Pat Tillman that stands in front of the Tillman Tunnel at the north end of Frank Kush Field at Sun Devil Stadium.

The Tillman statue was unveiled a year ago.

“It’s so inspiring,” Pearce said on Friday of the Tillman statue, which the players touch as they run onto the field. Pearce, who earned a degree in business from ASU in 1975, watched Tillman play in the 1990s.

“It’s great seeing not only the players but also people walking down from the stadium to look at it and take photos. It’s of worldwide importance because of what Tillman stood for and his character.

“The pitchfork is a little more specific for Sun Devil fans and also for future generations, who can stand by it and get their pictures taken after graduation.”

Davenport created the pitchfork at the same time as she was working on the Tillman statue, both at Bollinger Atelier foundry in Tempe. While she has seen the ASU pitchfork everywhere, it was a challenge for her to envision it as a three-dimensional figure.

“I had the pitchfork cut in foam and it was sort of a block shape, but then I realized it needed to be more sculptural so I sculpted it into the shape you see today,” said Davenport, who earned her master’s of elementary education in 2008 from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. She is an art teacher at Sandra Day O’Connor High School and also has her own studio in New River.

After Davenport finished the 3-foot-wide bronze pitchfork, it stayed in the foundry for more than a year before the maroon and gold patina was applied last week. On Friday, it was hoisted and dropped onto its base between two sets of steps at the stadium, just to the east of the ticket windows.

Pearce said that he goes to a lot of away football games and has seen many beloved mascot statues, including the husky at the University of Washington.

“People go up to the husky and hug it so much that the patina is worn off,” he said.

“Now we’ll finally have ours.”

Before the football game on Saturday, Pearce stood by the new statue, offering to take people's photos with it.

Pearce’s daughter, Jessica Pearce, an ASU alumna and current master’s degree student, attended the installation of the pitchfork on Friday.

“My dad has always been a huge ASU fan and supporter, so it’s nice that he can give back in a way that will stick around long after we’re all gone.”

Top photo: Ashwini Dhas (left) and Casey Clowes, both alumni of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at ASU, pose for photos at the new pitchfork statue at Sun Devil Stadium before the ASU football game on Saturday. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now

480-727-4503

 
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Dream Warriors descend on Tempe with 'Heal It Tour'

September 4, 2018

National tour coincides with ASU milestone for record number of Native students

With its emerging skyline, newly renovated stadium and continual growth, sometimes it’s easy to forget that Arizona State University’s Tempe campus sits on the ancestral homelands of American Indian tribes, including the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) peoples.

But part of the university's growth is reflected in the record amount of indigenous students enrolled, a fact that will be celebrated with music performances, workshops, conversations and panel discussions this week.

Poetry Across the Nations, a national Native reading series, is collaborating with the American Indian Council, the Center for Indian Education and [archi]TEXTS to bring Dream Warriors, a collective of Native American artists, to ASU's Tempe campus to kick off their national “Heal It Tour." Their Sept. 6-7 appearance includes two days of sharing, self-empowerment and healing.

“ASU is a Native space, even though it doesn’t always seem this way,” said Natalie Diaz, an associate professor in ASU’s Department of English and a renowned poet, who founded both Poetry Across the Nations and [archi]TEXTS. “As I have made ASU my new home, my priority is to find ways to connect our Native students and artists to the work of other people like them, to show them what is possible, and what Native students and artists are capable of. It’s a no-brainer to invite the Dream Warriors to ASU."

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Hip-hop artist and Rosebud Sioux Tribe member Frank Waln will be visiting ASU's Tempe campus on Sept. 6-7 as part of the Dream Warriors national tour.

The Dream Warriors consist of artists Frank Waln, Tall Paul, Mic Jordan, Tanaya Winder and Lyla June. Together they will speak, perform and teach self-empowerment to help others find healthy outlets to address personal, historical, ancestral and intergenerational traumas through art and discussions. Award-winning indigenous playwright Larissa Fasthorse and ASU’s Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy will join the conversation.

“Our message to Native students has been very clearly 'You belong here!' Our work with the Dream Warriors is another way that we are striving to make ASU a place where students feel like they belong," said Brayboy, President’s Professor, director of the Center for Indian Education and ASU’s special adviser to the president on American Indian affairs. "These incredible artists bring messages of hope, accomplishment and inclusion. In many ways, they are perfect representatives for the work of ASU. I am, personally, a huge fan of them; being able to share them with the ASU community is a gift to us all.”

Native college students are in a stage of life where they are trying to find purpose, often times in an education system that lacks awareness of Native needs, said June, a singer, multi-instrumentalist and motivational speaker who holds a master’s degree in English from Stanford University.

“I talk a lot about helping them navigate that system,” June said. “I try and remind them that their ancestral epistemology and ancestral curriculum is just as important as the Western curriculum, and they need to hold onto that to find their true purpose."

June, who is both Diné and Cheyenne, said the goal of many indigenous societies is to improve the larger community.

“A lot of my music is to be a good relative to the rest of humanity,” she said. “To me, that means helping people to heal.”

Some of the topics that will be broached include indigenous masculinity, gender identity, art, traditions, community, healing and “all of the ways we move in the world,” Diaz said.

Healing can come in many forms, including music, said hip-hop artist Waln, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.

“The Native artists who are successful are able to articulate a truth beyond tribal boundaries,” Waln said. “As indigenous people, we deserve to be healthy, happy, respected and successful in places such as academia, which traditionally aren’t made for us.”

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Dream Warrior organizer and indigenous artist Tanaya Winder will perform, sing and speak to Native American students on the national "Heal It Tour."

The tour coincides with the news that ASU now has cracked the 3,000 markThe 3,000+ count for Fall 2018 is based on students self-identifying solely as American Indian or in addition to another race/ethnicity. Last year 2,812 self-identified as Native Americans. That number has increased to 3,009, which is a preliminary number based on the first day of class. The number won't become official until the 21st day of class, according to the Office of Institutional Analysis. for American Indian enrolled students at the university, an increase of 7 percent from last year. The number represents approximately 2.7 percent of the university’s total student body, according to ASU's Office of Institutional Analysis.

“There are a number of deans, faculty, staff, alums, tribes, donors and students that deserve credit helping us consistently grow these numbers,” said Jacob C. Moore, associate vice president of tribal relations in the Office of Government and Community Engagement. “Even though this is a significant accomplishment, we now have a duty to support each student’s academic success.”

One Dream Warrior said the milestone is reason enough for celebration.

“Reaching the 3,000 mark is amazing. It’s awesome,” Winder said. “The more representation, the more access we have and the more support we get helps set us up to pursue what makes us happy. I love seeing a major institution reaching that milestone.”

Dream Warriors Tour

All events of the Heal It Tour are free. 

  • 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 6 — “Reimagining Indigenous Identities and Relationships. Conversations with Dream Warriors." Student Pavilion, Senita A. 
  • 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7 — Poetry and Songwriting Workshop with Dream Warriors. The Secret Garden, West 135.
  • 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7 — Poetry Across the Nations Presents: A Performance by Dream Warriors. Memorial Union, Pima Auditorium.

Photos courtesy of Magnus, @gelfie_ant