Dixie State ‘Rebels’ statue returned to artist

Posted at 9:34 PM, Jan 13, 2015

ST. GEORGE, Utah -- A statue of two Confederate soldiers that once stood on the campus of Dixie State University has a new home.

The school’s Board of Trustees reached an agreement to return the sculpture to the artist Jerry Anderson.

The statue has been in storage since 2012 when it became the center of controversy during the university’s rebranding. University spokesman Steve Johnson said the trustees determined Anderson had creative ownership of the statue, and deserved to get it back.

“At the end of the day we owed it to him to come up with a resolution that would benefit both the institution and Jerry,” Johnson said. “And I think it’s a win-win for both of us. He’s able to have the statue back on his property.”

“The Rebels” now sits in front of Anderson’s Leeds home and art gallery. The artist said it was the first life-size sculpture he was commissioned to do, and is glad it gets to stay in Utah’s Dixie.

“I didn’t want to see it someplace, in any other state,” Anderson said.

Controversy surrounding the statue came from the subject it portrays.

“The Rebels” depicts one Confederate soldier helping another on the battlefield with a Confederate flag flying overhead.

Anderson was commissioned to cast the piece in 1983 to reflect the Dixie spirit. It was originally installed in front of the Dixie Center on the university’s campus. When the city moved operation of the Dixie Center in the 1990s, "The Rebels" stayed behind.

Anderson said beyond the flag, the statue tells the story of brotherhood on the battlefield and is inspired by the civil war poem, “Two Little Boys.”

“Every country has a flag, whether it be Germany, Japan or whoever,” Anderson said. “But the story, really, to me relates to the two little boys helping each other in the sight of a war zone.”

Anderson said the statue will have a permanent place in front of his house, and invites people to come see it. He hopes it will live on as a snapshot of history, rather than controversy.

“It isn’t something we should disregard because of a political situation, it’s something that everyone should enjoy and then make up their own mind and decisions as to what they think,” Anderson said.

As part of the agreement with Dixie State, trustees will select a few other pieces of art to display on campus instead of “The Rebels.”