January 24, 2019

Student fundraiser gives thumbs up to Gorlok statue

The statue, ready for installation / Contributed photo by Mitch Horstmann

The statue, ready for installation / Contributed photo by Mitch Horstmann

A new bronze statue stands at the north end of the quad between Emerson Library and the Sverdrup building. It is the result of the student-led ‘Project Gorlok’ campaign that raised money to erect a Gorlok statue on campus.

The project was spearheaded by former Student Ambassador and Student Government Association President Gaby Deimeke, a 2016 (SGA) photography and studio arts program graduate, during the 2014-15 academic year. Current SGA president C. Wiley was not on the initial committee, but became the primary contact for the project after Deimeke graduated last spring.

“Project Gorlok was the first fully student-led funding initiative and it was an attempt to raise $13000 to get a Gorlok statue somewhere on the Webster University campus,” Wiley said.

Deimeke sat down with then-SGA advisor Jennifer Stewart, knowing the idea for a statue had been brought up in the past.

“I hoped this was something that we could actually make possible this time. There had never been an actual model made of it before,” Deimeke said.

For Project Gorlok, donors contributing over $100 got the choice of having their name inscribed on a brick placed in the walkway outside of the EAB or Sverdrup buildings on campus.

Wiley said the brick program was offered to potential donors for a short time as funds were raised for the statue.

“We gave that same opportunity to the students; but most students did not make a donation of $100 or more,” Wiley said.

As the funding began to take shape, Deimeke said the group then set out to begin pricing local artists and looked for Webster alums who could take on the project.

Local sculptor Mitch Horstmann was chosen to create the statue.

Horstmann has been a sculptor for 15 years and has operated St. Louis Sculpture Factory for the past eight years. Horstmann’s work at the St. Louis Sculpture factory ranges from small Halloween ornamentations to a nine-foot-tall Buddha statue.

Horstmann said Webster was looking for a bronze and the Gorlok was a personal first for the artist.

“That was the first mascot that I’ve done,” Horstmann said.

One of the criteria for the statue was to create a distinct version of the Gorlok unlike other depictions of the mascot.

“There was a lot of input on the design. Part of the challenge was creating something that does not exist. It’s not real; but we had to make it look like it would exist,” Horstmann said.

The statue itself is hollow; the molded structure is 3/8 inches thick and is self-supporting. Horstmann said without the base, the bronze itself comes in at about 250 pounds.

“It’s solid; it’s going to definitely out-live everybody who sees it in the next hundred years,” Horstmann said.

According to a press release, 75 student and alumni donors contributed to the project.

The statue was unveiled in a ceremony at the pedestal Aug. 1. Deimeke, who is leaving the U.S. for graduate studies in fashion photography at the University of the Arts – London in two weeks, returned to campus for the event.

Deimeke said the height of 3 feet, 9 1/2 inches was based on SLU’s Billiken, but Webster’s icon is posed quite differently: the Gorlok is hailing incoming students with a double ‘thumbs up.’

“In my opinion, it was the strongest idea; it was a positive looking Gorlok. As it ages, people will keep interacting with it,” Horstmann said. 

Share this post