Tucson resident Dan Hickman has spent the last 30 years of his life sculpting, but he doesn’t do it for the fame, the awards, or the money. He does it because it’s fulfilling. He does it to help others.
Hickman’s work can be seen throughout Tucson. There is a bronze sculpture of a cougar at Mesa Verde Elementary, one of a bobcat at Harelson Elementary, another of Morris Udall at the Udall Recreation Center.
Hickman’s work is also on display at his studio, Western Heritage Bunker Studio.
Hickman’s first-ever sculpture, a buffalo dancer, was donated to Casa de los Niños, and auctioned off to help pay for Christmas presents for the children. Since then, he has donated work to Youth on Their Own, given away a number of sculptures at or below cost, and continues to donate 20 percent of all studio proceeds to teeupfortots.org, an organization that raises money for pediatric cancer patients.
“My wife tells me I’ll never make it as an artist because I give too much away,” joked Hickman, who acknowledged having a soft spot for helping children.
Then came Jan. 8, 2011, the day six individuals were killed in a shooting spree outside of a Safeway during a Congress on Your Corner event hosted by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Among those killed was nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green.
“When they started listing off the names of the victims, when they said a nine-year-old girl had been killed, I felt that in my heart,” said Hickman, who continues to wear a pin with Christina’s initials on his cowboy hat. “After that, I had this inner voice telling me I had to do something.”
About a month later, Hickman sent the Green family a letter telling them he would be honored to create a sculpture of Christina at no cost to the family. Understandably, some time went by with no response. Then, one Sunday, Hickman’s phone rang. It was a family friend of the Greens, asking if Hickman was still interested. Of course, Hickman said yes.
Now Hickman is planning a five-foot long, 36-inch wide sculpture of Green to be placed in the butterfly garden at the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Linear Park.
“It’s such an amazing act of kindness for him to do,” said Christina’s mother, Roxanna Green. “I don’t know of anyone else that would have continued on and on with this like he has. After a year and a half of trying, a lot of people would have said, ‘Well, I tried my best.’ He is such a strong, assertive person. This isn’t something that can just be made in a month. This is truly a labor of love.”
The miniature model, to be replicated by the final sculpture, depicts Green lying on her stomach, reading a book, her feet crossed in the air behind her- a pose based on an actual photograph of Christina.
The sculpture will rest on a five-foot pedestal with an inscription on one side reading “Christina-Taylor Green” and on the other, “Caring Through Giving,” a message worthy of Christina’s initials.
“Dan’s work is absolutely beautiful,” said Green. “This piece will be for everyone, and we want to do whatever it takes to make people aware of this. When they go to stroll the park, run, bike or skate, they will enjoy this area, and they will have the chance to see what an inspiration Christina was.”
Hickman has the approval from Pima County and the unyielding support of the Green family. He has the ability. What Hickman needs are donations. The total cost of the sculpture is just under $25,000, with all money raised being used exclusively for the project.
“I really hope the people of Tucson will open up their hearts and work with me on this venture,” said Hickman.
Hickman is hoping to have the sculpture completed by Christina’s birthday. Christina was born on September 11, 2001.
“She was born on a day of tragedy, and she died on a day of tragedy,” said Hickman. “It’s heart-wrenching. I know this won’t fill the hole of her family’s loss, but I’m hoping it will comfort them, knowing they can go to the park and remember her as she was.”
When enough funds are raised, and the sculpture completed, the Green family will hold a special unveiling for family, friends, and general public.
“We know Christina is looking down from Heaven, and this is something she would have been proud of,” said Green. “This warms our heart as family, and would mean a lot to her friends or people who knew her. She was so social, she had great relationships, and we want people to remember those relationships.”
Donations for the sculpture can be made on Christina-TaylorGreen.org or by sending payment to:
Christina-Taylor Green Foundation P.O. Box 65000, Tucson, AZ 85728.
All contributions should be identified as being for the “Monument Project.”