August 23, 2018

Custom artwork brings inspiration, new tradition to UAB students

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Success of businessmen and -women is featured in two pieces of artwork on display at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s newest facility, the Collat School of Business. Charles Collat and Ken Jackson display their passion for student success with two prominent pieces of artwork that are centerpieces to the entrance of the 108,000-square-foot business building.

“Inspiration comes from all corners of this new business building,” said Eric Jack, Ph.D., dean of the UAB Collat School of Business. “These two pieces of art are meant to bring a sense of camaraderie between students and alumni and the success they each will see.”

collat art stepsSteps to Success

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Legacy of Leadership campaign commissions a piece of art at the conclusion of each year. The 18th honoree, Charles Collat, selected Anna Skibska to create the “Steps to Success,” which are on display in the main lobby of the new Collat School of Business. The artwork is a reminder of the honoree’s impact on the community at large and is part of the National MS Society Legacy Art Trail. Collat was chosen as the National MS Society’s 2017 Legacy of Leadership because of his dedication to civic engagement, philanthropy and business throughout Alabama.

“A creator of the future, Mr. Collat has provided opportunity for students and helped shape their futures in many ways through endowed scholarships, programs and generous donations that helped launch the school into this era,” Jack said. “Every person’s journey to success varies, and that is captured in the various shapes and colors of this sculpture.”

Skibska, a Collat family friend, has produced several pieces for them that are displayed in their home. The inspiration for the “Steps to Success” came from Collat and fit the theme of education at the school of business and the steps it takes to become successful through higher education. Skibska designed the sculpture to have three flights of stairs each made of different colors and sizes of glass that represent the idea of success’s being different for each individual. The lights reflecting off each piece of glass as it changes colors represent every person’s evolving path to success that comes through challenges and milestones along the way.

“As students enter this atrium each day at the UAB Collat School of Business, they will be reminded of their own journey and potential ascent up the ‘Steps to Success,’ much like my start as an aspiring young businessman,” Collat said. “Success is not an event; it is a process. Each metaphorical ‘step’ we take in life serves as a foundation to reach even greater heights.”

collat art blazeBlaze statue

UAB distinguished alumnus Ken Jackson donated the Blaze statue as the centerpiece for Blazer Pride Plaza and the main entrance to the Collat School of Business. The 8-foot bronze statue was designed and sculpted by Birmingham artist Branko Medenica.

“With his sculpture, Medenica has captured the intensity and determination of every Blazer,” said Jackson, past president of the UAB National Alumni Society. “I believe this statue will bring Blazers of the past, present and future inspiration and a sense of pride in all of UAB’s traditions.”

As Jackson was looking to be a part of the new business building, he wanted to donate something that created a tradition and meant something to the students. He knew that Blaze, the incredible, intimidating symbol seen across campus, should take physical form in Blazer Pride Plaza.

“Blaze means business,” Jack said. “We want Blazer fans across campus to embrace the new statue on campus as a tradition. It will bring luck to students before major exams or the big game. It is a symbol of strength and success where students can take their photo upon graduation. The Blaze statue is a symbol of our history and the successes to come.”

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