October 22, 2014  

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Chainsaw Artist to Transform Tree into Golden Eagle before Saturday's Game

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On Saturday, Nov. 17 chainsaw artist Dayton Scoggins will reshape an ailing live oak on The University Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg campus into a beloved icon.

The tree, located on the east side of the Walker Science Building and across from the west entrance of the R.C. Cook Student Union will be carved into a golden eagle, the university’s mascot, beginning at 9 a.m. The project is scheduled to be completed prior to Saturday’s 7 p.m. Conference USA football game against the University of Texas-El Paso. 

“Dayton is a local carver whose work is well known from some of the (Hurricane) Katrina trees on the coast,” said Loren Erickson, superintendent of campus landscape for Southern Miss. “This tree is dead and would be in need of removal regardless, but the chance for it to remain as an art piece makes its loss much easier to absorb.”

Preservation and maintenance of all trees on the Southern Miss Hattiesburg campus is coordinated through the university’s Tree Management Task Force. When a tree is no longer viable and has to be removed, another tree is planted to remediate the loss to the campus landscape.  However, on this occasion the task force commissioned Scoggins, an international award-winning artist, to transform what remains of the tree trunk into a banking golden eagle.

“I’m excited about this unique opportunity to incorporate art with recycling,” said Southern Miss Physical Plant Director Dr. Chris Crenshaw. “The Tree Management Task Force deserves much credit for this creative use of a tree, and I look forward to seeing the work of this Mississippi-based sculptor.”