Art and Design Students Think Big

The Sculpture Walk at SIUE is the culmination of months of work. Students applied in the spring to participate: they put together a resume, a budget, a plan and a ‘maquette’ (small model) and began a competitive process to get funding that is pretty close to the process professional artists go through all the time. About a dozen of them got a $750 stipend and then the fun began.

A student enjoys 'The Swings' by senior sculpture major Emily Dunlap

Funding came form the Gateway Foundation, the College of Arts and Sciences, SIUE student activity fees and Sculptors at Wagner.

“The students really take over – they write the grants, they write the proposals. It teaches them professionalism,” said Art and Design Professor Thad Duhigg, area head of sculpture. “They have to talk to vendors and all that kind of great stuff. We are, I think, the only university in the country that runs a program like this.”

Most art students only get to do small pieces. Large works are very different. There are problems of scale, mass, materials and site. Duhigg says all kinds of issues come up including how the location effects the piece. In some cases, like ‘The Swings’ located in the Stratton Quadrangle, people don’t even know the installation is art at all.

Professor of Art Edward Mayer came in to judge this year’s event. He teaches and practices art at State University of Albany, a New York system with 64 campuses, four graduate centers and 400,000 students. His visit involved more than just being a judge.

“The visit began with a lecture on my work and subsequently moved into individual conferences with the art students, most of whom were participants in this Sculpture Walk project,” said Mayer, just prior to joining in the walk. “Going through this experience, from beginning to end, gives them experience in what they may be doing later on. And now it’s ‘meet the public’ time and they get to hear responses from the general public – not just their peers.”

An installation by Lucas Coffin

First place winner gets $1,000, second place $500 and third place garners its winner $250. This is the 12th year of the competition.

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