The wolverine we deserve

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Byron L. Harward | Staff photographer/writer | @blhEYE

More than 30 years ago, the wolverine was selected as UVU’s mascot (long before the institution was UVU). Since then, multiple artists have redesigned the image and branding for the iconic wolverine with a modern lens.

In 2008, the logo and the live mascot ‘Willy the Wolverine’ was rebranded and trademarked for UVSC’s elevation to university status. That redesign did not include the wolverine sculpture near the entrance to UVU.

Six years later, adjunct professor Jason Millward decided it’s time to rethink Willy’s sculpture to represent change in the university. Millward loved the challenge of solving complex design problems as well as what UVU stands for, so he created a concept model for a new and improved wolverine.

WolverineStatue1-300x210“I love that UVU gives nontraditional students a second chance to pursue their dreams, because I was one of those students,” Millward said. “Should the university ever be interested in pursuing a larger scale version of the statue I would be willing and able to make it happen.”

Millward’s wolverine is currently a 7 inch maquette – a miniature sculpture that represents the initial concept of the design. Creating the maquette allows him to work out all the design challenges.

His maquette is created out of plastilina—a clay mixture that doesn’t harden and allows redesign over time. Students in his 3-D design class last block were involved in critiquing the design and providing feedback that Millward says was valuable in completing the design.

The first sculpture of a wolverine on campus was commissioned by the student council of UVSC in 1987 and created by professors Barbra Wardle and Larry Christensen. That relief-style sculpture now hangs in the hallway between the Woodbury Business building and the Student Center. About five or six years later, Wardle was commissioned by then president Kerry Romesburg to complete a bronze sculpture of a full wolverine.

Two castings of that sculpture are located on campus- one mounted at the south entrance to UVU on the low wall with the university’s name and the other mounted on a sandstone base along the walkway from the southeast parking lot. There is also a bust of a female wolverine emerging from under the bushes across the walkway from the full male sculpture.

When Wardle was shown pictures of Millward’s design, her spontaneous reaction was “Oh, I like that. The sports department will be thrilled.” Wardle did have suggestions for anatomical improvements, but ended her comments by saying, “Tell him I really like it.”

Millward has been involved in the world of sculpture for over 20 years. He has been employed as adjunct faculty at UVU teaching sculpture and 3-D design for three years. He has designed and created a number of works including a line of stylized animal sculptures which will include this wolverine.

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