JOPLIN, Mo. — A new bronze addition has been installed in Joplin’s Mercy Park.

We were present for the installation of the 28th statue in the sculpture garden Wednesday morning. This latest addition is a lion sculpture called “Strength and Courage.” It was created and donated by artist Catherine Gray Johnston, who had previously contributed the “Wishing on a Star” piece in 2021.

Although she now resides in Broken Arrow, she is originally from Joplin and feels a strong connection to her childhood home.

“The ‘Strength and Courage’ is about my parents giving me the strength and the courage right here in Joplin, Missouri to do all of this. And, if it wasn’t for my parents, I wouldn’t be here,” said Johnson.

“A lot of people now, when they have relation or friends come to town, they bring them out here, and that’s what we wanted. We wanted a place for people to come out and enjoy, get some exercise, get some fresh air, and do some reflection,” said Bob Headlee, Rotary Sculpture Garden Board Chairman.

Additionally, two more sculptures are currently in progress and will be added to the garden soon. The creation process for each sculpture takes several months from concept to completion.