Pride of Troy

Published 12:26 am Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Several Troy graduates living in Covington County have left their mark on the campus of their alma mater — literally.

Covington County native Larry Strickland is the artist who created the statue of a Trojan that currently is located on the “quad” at Troy University’s campus. Saturday, the college dedicated a replica of that original statue, which is located at the south end of the football stadium. Joey Evans, a native of Florala, served as the model for the Trojan figure.

“The original idea was in 1999,” Strickland said. “Earl Johnson, who is going to be mayor of Andalusia, wanted to give something to the college and also have it be in memory of his brother who died. The first thing we did was a wood carving that’s in one of the buildings in Troy now. That was good, but the school wanted something that maybe could represent Troy, similar to how Denny Chimes represents Alabama.

“We decided to do a Trojan. From there, I made a 22-inch model and (Troy) liked it and asked if I would do the larger piece.”

Strickland said he started work on the full-sized statue in 2000. After deciding that the statue needed to be a model of a Trojan, he did some research into the mythology of Troy and Trojan soldiers.

“I was kind of given free reign because there’s not a lot of known history about Troy outside of the mythology,” Strickland said. “I tried to model the statue from Roman armor and that sort of thing.”

Of course, Strickland needed a human to serve as a model for the statue. He found that model when he asked his good friend Evans to help with the project.

“He came by my gym in Florala one day and asked if I would come pose for the statue,” said Evans, whose daughter Emily is a cheerleader at Troy University. “I’m certainly not pompous enough to think I had the perfect body or anything like that, I think it was more from having a friendship with (Strickland) and being what he was looking for.”

Strickland confirmed that Evans served as the perfect model for the statue.

“The thing about Joey is he’s got one of the most well-proportioned bodies I’ve seen, and he was local, so I didn’t have to go too far,” Strickland said. “We just spent an afternoon, I had him come down to my gallery and we just did a few poses. I had Gary Jones there to take some photographs of him, and my own live study of Joey’s poses was also very helpful.”

After figuring out what the pose should look like, Strickland went about the process of creating the statue. The original is 10 feet tall and from there has been replicated four times. Three of the statues have already been placed — two at Troy’s campus and one at the campus of Troy-Dothan. A fourth statue will be located at the Troy-Montgomery campus in the near future.

Strickland said the statue’s construction was a complex process, with Union City Inferno Art Foundry in Union City, Ga., doing most of the work.

“The bronze is a replica of the original wood model,” he said. “Then you reproduce the figure in wax and surround it with a silicone shell mold. When the wax is surrounded, you can then heat the mold and all the wax melts out, leaving an empty mold. From there, you pour the melted bronze into that and it forms one section of the statue.

“Both arms were cast separately; the shield, the cape, the helmet, those were all cast separate. At the end, it all has to be welded together. The statue at the university is hollow and weighs about a ton.”

Strickland added that the project would not have been possible without the help of Johnson.

“Earl Johnson was really one of the main catalysts of this whole thing,” he said. “He wanted to give to the university and he was the ‘fire in the engine.’

“I’ve worked for 40 yards as a fine artist, but this is the biggest project I’ve ever done. I would certainly love to do more, if I got the opportunity.”