New art featured in Washburn University Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit

Washburn University

TOPEKA – Washburn University’s commitment to the aesthetic and cultural enhancement of the campus continues with the 14th annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit. The community is invited to view the new works.

The sculptures were selected by juror Robert Soppelsa, senior curator/ART in Embassies, U.S. State Department, under the auspices of the Campus Beautification Committee. The sculptures will be on display through July 2010.

For a brochure detailing a walking tour of the sculpture exhibition, call 785-670-1124, or go to

Sculptures on tour and statements by artists:

1. “Pylon” (welded forged aluminum), Michael Shewmaker, Hilo, Hawaii

“‘Pylon’ is a welded aluminum sculpture with obelisk roots. Construction of the piece proceeded from a one-foot high model. Sheet aluminum was cut from scaled up measurements and box welded together. Each side of the box was then hand forged to create the concave surfaces. The handwork gives the finished piece a more organic appearance,” the artist said.

Metalsmithing and sculpture have been a passion of the artist’s for 40 years. “Recent technological improvements have made it possible for me to combine the two interests. While many of my pieces may seem large, I envision them as maquettes for much larger pieces, ranging from 35 to 75 feet in height,” he noted.

2. Inside Edge (stone), Andy Sweet, Denver, Colo.

“This work grew out of my personal psychological work in the Men’s movement. We speak of something having ‘an edge’ or ‘my edge’ – referring to a sticky or trouble spot in one’s psychic makeup. This piece evokes issues about maleness, protection and symmetry for me,” he said.

Sweet is a Colorado-based sculptor who works in stone, steel and mixed media. His studio is with the Ironton Studios and Gallery in Denver and he shows mostly in the Western U.S.

3. Ring Three (steel), Joe Forrest Sackett, Albuquerque, N.M.

“I have made a number of pieces, mostly steel, but in other media as well, with a ‘ring’ theme. The shape reflects unity and coherence, as well as a sense of mathematical purity. Rings indicate magic and symbolize feminine power and force. This one is bridged by a mysterious greenish blade.”

A playwright and artist, Sackett grew up in Santa Fe, N.M., and now lives in Albuquerque, having “seen some of the world and its ways.” He describes himself as a proud parent and proud teacher who likes art “in most of its manifestations.”

4. Totem (wood), Joe Forrest Sackett, Albuquerque, N.M.

“Totems are usually representations of supernatural beings symbolic to the totem’s creator. My ‘Totem’ is not symbolic; it’s an abstract object, non-mathematical and non-representational. It may also have some male energy and phallic impact, but, to paraphrase Freud, sometimes a totem pole is just a piece of wood.”

5. Wedges I (mild steel), Matt Moyer, Columbia, Mo.

“‘Wedges I’ is a formal study exploring the fluid and humorous interaction of two rigid geometric forms in space. These wedge forms, though rigid and geometric in nature, contain glimpses of softness in their unrefined welded edges. Exploring the boundaries and interactive possibilities that two tethered geometric forms can explore is a driving force behind this series of work.”

Moyer received a master of fine arts in ceramics and sculpture from the University of Missouri in 2009. He has exhibited his public sculpture in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas and Missouri, and recently donated a piece to the city of Galesburg, Ill., in remembrance of the Midwest flooding in 2008.

6. Poco a Poco Se va Lejos (bronze), Pokey Park, Tucson, Ariz.

“My style reflects my belief that life needs to be celebrated with whimsy and attitude. I use animals with the personalities and attitudes that reflect human emotions. ‘Poco a Poco Se va Lejos’ loosely translated from Spanish means ‘One step at a time one can go a long way.’ It’s the tortoise of ‘Tortoise and Hare’ fame lumbering along with absolute determination to get to the finish line.”

Her love for nature and respect for “its different moods” began in coastal Georgia where she was born. “Feeling the need to capture it in another form, my creative journey began. Curiosity, patience and determination, more than my formal training, guide me. I now live both in the mountains and desert, where the surrounding wildlife gives me inspiration,” she noted.

7. Rules of Civility (steel), Kristin Garnant, Camanche, Iowa

“This triptych consists of three abstract pieces constructed of corten steel,” Garnant said. “Their subtle curves reveal openings and recesses, the give and take of space, while maintaining an upright dignity and powerful presence. Sentries, speaking to the need of civility and compassion.

“The distinct quality of steel and the combinations of textures reveal unique compositions much like the layering of fine handmade papers. Reinterpreting ideas in metal can give it a distinctly new identity. It is this creative unfolding of each piece that has captured my interest in this form.”

8. Mantle (steel), Steve Elliott, Wayne, Neb.

“I am interested in the relationship between nature and structural complexity, particularly relating to “free form” architecture, where lines and shapes are approximated in order to physically construct intricate geometric structures. The linear, skeletal construction method gradually brings the visual elements together while “drawing” with the material, inciting the viewer into a potential state of meaning,” he noted.

Elliott’s large scale sculptures and mixed media works have been included in more than 40 solo and group exhibitions nationwide. Recent exhibitions include the Manoa Art Gallery in Honolulu, ARC Gallery in Chicago and 516 ARTS in Albuquerque. He is an associate professor of art and chairman of the art and design department at Wayne (Neb.) State College.

9. Circus Acrobat (steel), Robert Lamberson, Dannebrog, Neb.

A welded steel sculpture, “Circus Acrobat” depicts an acrobat suspended high in the air with his feet and hands braced between two poles. The idea for this piece came from a visit to the Barnum and Bailey Circue in 1947 in Grand Island, Neb. “I was fascinated by a man climbing two poles which were not attached to anything, to a height of about 15 feet. This image has stuck in my mind for nearly 60 years,” he said.

Lamberson’s extensive experience with functional design and welding, paired with his continuous contact with arts and artists dating back to the mid 1960s, gives him a solid background in many aspects of visual arts, which seemed to naturally evolve into working with sculptural forms. He said his work is normally characterized by the use of contrasting geometric forms and contrasting colors and textures, with an occasional touch of humor or whimsy.

10. The Mulvane Art Museum has invited Patrick Dougherty to design and build a site specific sculpture during November 2009 on the Museum’s front lawn.

Patrick T. Dougherty, Chapel Hill, N.C., is internationally known for his unusual and dynamic sculptures built with tree saplings. During the past several decades Dougherty has built more than 200 sculptures throughout the world. His signature woven sculptures – waving, willowy, whimsical and windblown-looking – tower over or fold into buildings, trees and other landscape elements.

Born in Oklahoma and raised in North Carolina, Dougherty earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina and a master’s degree in hospital and health administration from the University of Iowa. He returned to Chapel Hill in 1975, and worked as a carpenter and stone mason while studying sculpture and art history at the University at Chapel Hill.

The experience of building his own home in North Carolina and using the native materials at hand – saplings – has led him to use this readily available and renewable resource in his sculptures. Dougherty’s installations are in museums, parks and gardens throughout the United States, as well as in Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, England, France, Denmark and Austria. His work explores the supple, linear energy of young tree saplings woven into natural, nest-like settings, with inventive references to architectural and sculptural forms and concepts of domestic shelter, habitats, passageways and vistas.

Dougherty has received many honors and awards, including the Pollack-Krasner Foundation Grant, Henry Moore Foundation Fellowship and several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. His work has been the subject of more than 100 articles and reviews in publications, including The New York Times and The Washington Post.

For additional information, visit Dougherty’s Web site at