My daughter Jessica is a second year MSA candidate in sculpture at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (S.I.U.E.) Last summer, she was awarded a $750 grant to create a large scale sculpture for a project called Sculpture on Campus – a program that’s been going on for over a decade. Every year students submit proposals and 12 students are selected by jurors.
Jessica worked hard all summer on this project. Yours truly gave her a hand now and then. This gave me a better understanding of what is involved in the creating process of sculpture.
First Jessica sculpted her “lady” from clay. I modeled my arm and hand for one portion of the sculpture… you know she needed someone “older.”
Jessica made a mold of this clay model and then casted each piece three times.
And then she needed a hand with welding the inner armature for each piece.
Even though I didn’t weld, I still had to wear all the protective gear. This gave me a new perspective of welders and I have a much higher respect for the kind of job they do. It can be very dangerous and the school takes high precautions for everyone involved. You have to take a class in order to weld.
We were in this full get-up when the temperatures outside were above 90 degrees by the way.
In the process of putting the lady together, fiberglass resin was used—requiring ventilator masks.
This too was a hot deal – outside in the scorching heat, wearing masks and working quickly with the resin before it hardens.
Fiberglass is itchy and the resin burns if it gets on your skin. It’s pretty nasty stuff.
Jessica faced some challenges with putting the lady together, but I knew she’d figure out a solution to her problems and the three models all came together. There was more work involved that I was totally unaware of, but just the part I played was enough for me to have a deeper appreciation of all the time and effort involved.
The day of the walk – where folks were invited to participate in seeing each Sculpture on Campus, with the student giving a talk about their sculpture was a fun and eye-opening experience.
and drumroll …..
“SHE IS HERE”
Here is what Jessica had to say when it was her turn to talk about her sculpture:
Hello, my name is Jessica Hunt and I’m a second year graduate student in sculpture. I first want to dedicate this piece to my mother, Lynn. She guided me through my worst days on this project and kept me from feeling defeated. She also helped me resin in 99-degree heat for hours on end. She is forever my light. Thank you, mom. I also want to thank my partner Patrick for his constant support emotionally and domestically this summer, my friends and family, my SOC colleagues, and most importantly, Thad, for running such an amazing program, and for being our mentor and cheerleader always.
She is Here was influenced from aging individuals collected voices within our society, and particularly women’s. So many don’t feel relevant in the dominant cultural narrative any longer. The messages our elders are constantly trying to reinforce tend to disappear but I believe much of their wisdom is crucial to our understanding of self.
She is Here is reminiscent of the cicada shells I used to pluck off trees as a child. I never actually saw a cicada as a kid but I knew they were there. Their sound was comforting, constant and reliable. The shells are something the cicadas emerge from as they cycle into adulthood, like a rebirth. At 31, I’ve already come to understand that aging is kind of like a constant rebirth. One continues to re-define who they are as they get older. Like a skin or shell, you shed off what’s less important and morph into something new.
Needless to say, I was shocked to receive such an honor—the piece being dedicated to me. The little I did compared to all the work involved seemed like nothing, and I was happy to help.
And by the way, Jessica placed second! Whoo-hoo. The mother in me feels she placed first.
You can still see Jessica’s sculpture at S.I.U.E. in the back of the Art & Design building. Unfortunately, some inconsiderate person decided to try and steal one of the sculptures. Since it was secured to the ground, the only thing they were able to do was destroy it. It saddens me that some people lack the respect of others’ property… not to mention time, effort and finances that goes into creating something of this magnitude.
If you’d like to see more of Jessica’s work, check out her website: jessicalynnhunt.com