Stone lion guards UAA Rock Garden

The massive feline looks startled as if rudely awakened from an afternoon snooze from commotion outside the UAA Natural Sciences Building — fortunately for UAA students, staff, faculty and visitors, an escape should be no trouble. The beast, after all, is made out of several tons of limestone.

Last Friday, a small group of students and faculty gathered outside the Natural Sciences Building to celebrate the arrival of the newest, and fiercest, tenant to the UAA Rock Garden: a sculpture of the extinct American lion.

The creature, which roamed the continent several hundred thousand years ago, was part of the Natural Sciences Building renovations that wrapped up more than two years ago.

“I wanted something to draw students in,” Summer Sauve said, a project manager with UAA’s Facilities Services who coordinated the lion’s arrival to campus.

The piece of art comes from the handiwork of Kentucky stone and bronze sculptor Meg White.

White explained part of her sculpture method for this piece.

“I wanted have something where it’s protected, where freezing and thawing would be less of an issue,” White said.

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White, who is based in Stephensport, Kentucky, was chosen from over 100 applicants to carry out the work by the Alaska State Council on the Arts.

The ASCA facilitates the “Percent for Art Program,” state legislation passed in 1975 that allocates 1 percent of all capitol construction costs of public building to go toward the acquisition and installation of public artwork, which was what paid the lion’s way to Alaska.

Andrea Noble-Pelant, who helps select the artwork for the program, was also on hand.

“It’s a good example of what’s possible,” Noble-Pelant said, pointing out that despite Alaska’s abundance of stone, there are few stone sculptors and bronze artists in the state.

To see process photos of the lion while it was being sculpted, visit the Meg White’s blog at