Leawood, KS, Sept. 1, 2015 -  As The University of Kansas celebrates its 150th Anniversary, ICON Artworks, a local art studio featuring the works of acclaimed sculptor Robin Richerson, has paid tribute to the fascinating history of the beloved KU mascot with the sculptural depiction of the “Evolution of the Jayhawk.” 

“We’re incredibly honored to introduce our sculptures for The University of Kansas and its most recognizable symbol…the Jayhawk,” said ICON Artworks founder and KU alum Matt Palmer.  “Colleges and universities have some of the most passionate and loyal fans in the world and ICON Artworks will tap into that tremendous spirit with our new series of Collegiate Icons…starting with a mythical bird that is very dear to our hearts.” 

For the first time ever, all six of the official Jayhawk mascots are available to KU fans as a complete set of desktop sculptures, starting with Henry Maloy’s stylized version in 1912…and including Dr. Eugene “Yogi” William’s 1941 “Fighting Jayhawk” and Hal Sandy’s “Happy  Jayhawk” originally created in 1946. 


ICON Artworks is offering the Jayhawk Desktop Sculptures in a variety of materials and finishes, including our Signature Cast Bronze and Cast Pewter.  The First Edition is individually numbered, limited to 1000 and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by the artist.  They are available exclusively through our online gallery at www.iconartworks.com and are officially licensed by The University of Kansas and CLC (Collegiate Licensing Company). 

Each Jayhawk Desktop Sculpture stands at 7 to 8-inches in height (including base) and is handcrafted exclusively in America.  The standard base is 3/4 inch black, polished genuine marble.  By adding engraving, each Jayhawk Desktop Sculpture is mounted on our Special Edition/ Engraving Base and stands approximately 8-inches in height.  Our Special Edition/ Engraving Base is a square pedestal made of black, polished genuine marble and can be laser engraved to commemorate any event or achievement, including KU's 150th Anniversary, the 60th Anniversary of historic Allen Fieldhouse, Graduation, membership in fraternities & sororities, etc.

For more than three thousand years, artists have cast sculptures in bronze. “Our mission at ICON Artworks is to immortalize treasured icons and cast bronze is a timeless, classic art form,“ said Palmer.  “Cast bronze is our signature line of sculpture at ICON Artworks.  Our pieces are cast in silicon bronze, the highest quality bronze alloy used for sculpture, then hand-finished with the desired patina.”

Using the ancient “lost-wax” casting method, bronze is the ultimate realization for fine art sculpted of clay because of its flawless rendering of detail, its permanence and its unrivaled richness when it comes to textures and patinas.

However, the dramatic rise in the cost of copper, the main component in bronze, has led many artists to explore alternative casting methods. 

“In addition to our Signature Cast Bronze sculptures, ICON Artworks uses a variety of other materials and refined casting methods,” stated Palmer.  “We also proudly offer Cast Pewter using the highest quality, lead-free Fine Pewter alloy used for sculpture."  After platinum, gold and silver, pewter is the fourth-most-precious metal in the world. Pewter has been used since the Bronze Age because of its lustrous silver finish, its malleability, durability and its ability to capture incredibly fine detail.  Pewter does not rust or deteriorate and can be enjoyed for generations.  “Our Jayhawk sculptures are a perfect gift for KU students, faculty, alumni and fans and we’re pleased to offer the entire Evolution of the Jayhawk mascots individually...or as a complete set of desktop sculptures for the first time ever,” stated Palmer.  Prices start at $289.00 for the Cast Pewter and $589.00 for the Signature Cast Bronze.  

“My uncle Robin has been an active artist for nearly two decades and has a remarkable  ability to breathe life into clay,” said Palmer.  Robin Richerson was mentored for four years by Kwan Wu, a Chinese-American sculptor widely considered to be one of the best figurative sculptors in the world.  Kwan Wu was originally invited to America by former KU art professor Elden Tefft and later won the commission to create the Phog Allen monumental bronze statue that stands outside of historic Allen Fieldhouse on KU’s campus.


The Jayhawk is a mythical bird with origins rooted in the struggles of early Kansas settlers.  By the end of the Civil War, “Jayhawkers” were synonymous with the impassioned people who made Kansas a Free State.   

Since the early 20th century, the Jayhawk mascot has undergone a number of physical and personality changes.  In 1912, Henry Maloy, a KU student and cartoonist for the university newspaper, created a highly stylized, memorable version.  According to legend, he gave it shoes.  Why?   For kicking   opponents, of course.   In 1920, a dignified bird, perched on a KU monogram, came into use. In 1923, a more quaint, duck-like Jayhawk was adopted. A third alteration in the    Jayhawk of the 1920s to win widespread acceptance came in the year of the great stock-market crash....when in 1929, Forrest O. Calvin drew a grim-faced bird sporting talons that could maim.

In 1941, when the Great Depression gave way to the Second World War, a KU student and cartoonist for the University Daily Kansan by the name of Eugene “Yogi” Williams, sketched a Jayhawk that quickly gained popularity. His “Fighting Jayhawk” epitomized the wartime period and wore a scowl to match its ruffled tail feathers, appearing even more aggressive than its immediate predecessor.

But in 1946, fitting perfectly the happy mood of a victorious United States, KU student Harold “Hal” Sandy designed the “Happy Jayhawk” mascot that is still with us today...with only small modifications made in 2007 which included KU’s new Trajan font. 

Start your collection today! Rock Chalk Jayhawk...GO KU!

(Source notes: The History of the Jayhawk, University Relations, KU)

September 01, 2015 by Matt Palmer
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