James HowellStaff Writerjhowell@heartlandpublications.com
October 28, 2012
A local artist’s generosity reached new heights when he made a special donation to Ashe Memorial Hospital Friday morning.
The artist, R.T. Morgan, who has work across the United States and the world, donated a sculpture called “Circle of Life” to the hospital.
“I am a big supporter of my local hospital and was glad to make this donation,” said Morgan.
R.D. Williams, Ashe Memorial Hospital’s chief executive officer, was thrilled to receive the gift. Williams said “this is a great piece for the hospital. It’s very symbolic, it represents the hospital is where life begins and ends.”
Williams also said “it (the sculpture) doesn’t overwhelm the building and the building doesn’t overwhelm it.”
Donating artwork to the county is nothing new for Morgan. According to Williams, Morgan has donated over $80,000 to the county over the years.
His donations to the county include a statue one the backstreet of West Jefferson, a sculpture at the entrance of the Ashe Civic Center, and a sculpture in front of Westwood Elementary School. Also, Morgan has donated between $5,000 and $8,000 per year for the last seven years at the hospital’s gala event.
However, this is the first sculpture Morgan has donated to a hospital. Morgan has prepared several works for hospitals before, but those were on a commission-base.
The “Circle of Life” sculpture was finished last year. Morgan said he completed the stainless-steel statue in about two weeks.
“The inspiration for this piece came from working with simple forms,” said Morgan. Morgan also said he has used this design before, only with smaller sculptures.
Morgan had not been commissioned by anyone to create this piece. When Morgan decided to make a donation to the hospital, representative came and chose the “Circle of Life” piece for the hospital rather than Morgan’s other sculptures.
The sculpture now sit in front of the hospital’s main entrance, and Williams said the hospital plans to arrange plants around the sculpture.
Morgan said he decided against placing the sculpture near the emergency room entrance because people would be rushing in and wouldn’t have time to appreciate it. “We wanted to place the sculpture where people could enjoy it,” said Morgan.
Joe Thore, the hospital’s chief operating officer, said the sculpture has been well received so far. Thore said the sculpture was a “tremendous gift” because Ashe Memorial is a small hospital and usually wouldn’t have the funds to afford artwork on this scale.