University of Florida Lighted Gator - CODAworx

University of Florida Lighted Gator

Submitted by Leslie Tharp Designs LLC

Client: University of Florida

Location: Gainesville, FL, United States

Completion date: 2019

Artwork budget: $30,000

Project Team


Leslie Tharp

Leslie Tharp Designs


University of Florida


This larger than life iron gator was forged for the University of Florida, as the key centerpiece to their annual campus wide holiday celebration. The gator stands upon an 8’D x 3.5’H base – forged from textured steel plate. The gator’s form is elevated to a height of 8′, as its heavy tail swings over the edge of the base. During the day this sculpture describes the texture of an alligators back, and the strong musculature of the form with deeply forged line-work.

In the evenings the piece is illuminated with the University of Florida colors to create an enchanting orange and blue demonstration. The lights bounce downward along the textured base, describing the surface in details with rays of blue shining outward on the ground below. The orange is directed up towards the thick line-work, creating a crisply lit orange gator in the night.


The University of Florida approached me as an alumni and local artist, with a request to create a truly unique sculpture for their annual "Lighting of the Gator" event. The piece was designed with the site in mind, and visibility from a distance to be considered. Additional considerations were finish options, lighting design, and overall form.