One of the most noticeable recent additions to the University of North Florida’s campus is headed across town for the holidays.
On Friday morning, Sgt. Quackers, a 9-foot-tall bright yellow duck, will begin a journey from UNF’s pond to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, where it will reside through the end of the year as part of the second annual “ZOOlights” event.
The sergeant is a Styrofoam and fiberglass sculpture constructed by UNF art students. He made his first public appearance on the UNF campus on April 1.
WATCH: Sgt. Quackers arrives at the UNF Pond, April 1, 2013
He was created as part of a course titled “Enlivened Spaces” taught by art professor Dr. Jenny Hager.
The purpose of the class is to respond to architecture and your surroundings with art,” Hager said Thursday.
“Normally, when you think about sculpture, it’s in the round and you can walk around it. When you think about installation art, which is what I’m teaching, it’s about responding to the space and creating works that interact with the space.”
As the sculpture gained notoriety, Hager was contacted by local “arts agitator” Wayne Wood, who asked if Sgt. Quackers could be displayed as part of the inaugural One Spark crowdfunding festival.
“It was really great, I think it was the most photographed thing at One Spark,” Hager said, noting the frequency of photos of people posing with, and sometimes even riding the duck posted to Instagram during the festival.
“Everybody seemed to really enjoy him over there, I really didn’t think it would be that big of a deal,” said Mark Ewing of the One Spark trip.
Ewing, a senior at UNF from Niceville, Florida, came up with the concept of Sgt. Quackers as a way for students to escape from the stresses of academia.
“I wanted to create something large that would be funny and make people laugh,” he said. “A stress reliever where people can look at it from the library and take a little break from studying.”
Ewing said he never anticipated how popular the sculpture would become.
As for how Sgt. Quackers earned his rank, Ewing said the prefix simply fit the bill.
“I thought it sounded kind of funny for a giant rubber duck to be a sergeant,” he said. “It was mostly just for comedy.”
Sgt. Quackers will be joined by a 10 to 12 other student sculptures of sea creatures at the zoo this holiday season. Fiber artists Yarn Bomb Jax will also be providing a scarf and earmuffs for Sgt. Quackers’ holiday residence.
Ewing said he is grateful for the recognition his creation has garnered, and that he hopes Sgt. Quackers will remain a part of UNF for years to come.
“As long as UNF wants him, he can stay there,” Ewing said.
You can follow Patrick Donges on Twitter @patrickhdonges.