Creator of Johnson Statue Picked To Mold Marshall’s Greer

By Tim Zuspan for the YJ

The “hidden figure” behind the noble Katherine Johnson statue by Cole was picked by Marshall University to sculp the figure of its revered alum, Hal Greer.

He’s the versatile artist and 1989 State alum Rev. Frederick Hightower.

Hightower with Johnson statue prototype. Photo by Tim Zuspan

A pastor and artist, Hightower’s interest in art started at an early age. At two, he drew the perfect figure of Snoopy.

“I’ve been doing art all my life,” Hightower said. “I was drawing before I was writing. My mother felt that I had some talent, so I was pushed in that direction.”

Hightower is a renowned painter. The sanctuary of All Nations Revival Center hosts one of the largest religious murals on the east coast. But his affinity is for sculpture.

“I really like sculpture,” Hightower said. “I have a knack for it. It’s opened up this opportunity for me to do some larger, monumental pieces.”

He’s grateful that State President Anthony Jenkins gave him the opportunity to create the Johnson statue. It was a significant stepping stone from paintings.

Katherine Johnson Statue
Photo Courtesy of Fredrick Hightower
Katherine Johnson Sculpture Time Lapse
Video Courtesy of Fredrick Hightower

A national call for proposals with prototype statues was issued by our neighboring university. He was awarded the commission in January. In basketball parlance, it wasn’t a “gimme” because he was local.

“Marshall told me that my work was the best. So, I really appreciate that,” he said.

Hightower continues to work on the Hal Greer statue. His other works continue to impact and enrich the community. Below is a gallery of some of his works. Visit his website here to see more.


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