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Sculpture by Cakky Brawley placed in front of Packard Building during Symposium.

Texas Sculpture Symposium 2004

Having participated in five of the six Texas Sculpture Symposia of the 1980s, Sara Waters, professor of art in the TTU School of Art, had long wanted to revive the Texas Sculpture Symposium as a forum for the sculpture community of Texas to exchange ideas and develop collaborations. Her vision was realized after a year of planning and work in collaboration with William Cannings, assistant professor of art in the TTU School of Art, as co-chairman of the 2004 Symposium and Joe Arredondo, director of Landmark Arts at TTU, as facilitator of the symposium. Financial support for the Symposium came from the TTU College of Visual & Performing Arts, TTU Center at Junction through the Office of the Provost, Landmark Arts – the Galleries of the School of Art, and the many registered attendees of the symposium.

Frances Whitehead, professor of art at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, set the standard and tone of excitement for the Symposium with her Keynote Address. Speaking at a brisk pace without notes for nearly two hours, Whitehead held the audience in a thrall as she covered twenty years of her artwork and art collaborations. Her talk was as much about the evolution of her artistic concerns as it was about the technologies and media she employed, the manifestations her work took, and the aesthetics of her artworks.

Two panel discussions formed the core of the Symposium on Saturday.
Saturday morning a panel discussion, “Topics, Techniques, and Trends in Contemporary Sculpture" was moderated by Sara Waters. Speakers included: Stephen Daly, professor of art, University of Texas at Austin; Ken Little, professor of art, University of Texas at San Antonio; George Lorio, associate professor of art, Univesity of Texas at Brownsville; Katy Heinlein, artist from Houston; Mary Hale-Visser, professor and chair of art, Southwestern University, Georgetown; and Frances Whitehead, professor of art, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Mary Hale-Visser’s presentation on the use of rapid prototyping to make 3-D objects, drew the greatest amount of discussion. The pros and cons heard associated with engaging in “digital sculpture” were similar to those which have been heard in the field of photography and printmaking.

After lunch, the group reconvened for the afternoon panel discussion,
“Curators, Critics and Collectors of Contemporary Sculpture” ,
moderated by William Cannings. Speakers included Cakky Brawley, assistant professor of art, Palo Alto College, San Antonio; Frances Colpitt, PhD, professor of art history, University of Texas at San Antonio; Patricia Meadow, Senior Vice President, Hall Financial Group; Riley Robinson, Studio Director, ArtPace, San Antonio; and Terrie Sultan, Director, Blaffer Gallery, the Museum of the University of Houston.

The breadth of topics presented at this session was as broad as the field of sculpture itself. Riley Robinson focused on the type of granting ArtPace provides primarily on conceptual sculpture while Patricia Meadows, who is the principal advisor to the Craig Hall sculpture collection based in Frisco, Texas, focused on much more traditional object-based sculpture. Terrie Sultan, talked about the considerations that go into going into agreements with sculptors to exhibit their work.

After dinner various concurrent sessions took place at different locations on the Junction campus. Participants had been encouraged to bring slides or slideshows of their work and from 8:00 PM until around midnight work was presented and discussed. Will Cannings and Amy Gerhauser, an artist from Cedar Creek, facilitated an iron pour on site which achieved moderate success by around midnight. Mary Hale-Vissor continued the discussions about rapid prototyping with an informal roundtable discussion. At the pavilion, which served as the center of evening refreshments and entertainment, Ken Little and Sara Waters played their guitars and sang songs. They were soon joined by others including Ben Guenther, sculpture student at Texas State University, with his harmonica and tambourine.

Internationally renowned sculptor, James Surls, provided the closing comments. Talking without slides, he provided a brief historical overview of the Texas Sculpture Symposium [Surls chaired the 2nd Sculpture Symposium at the University of Houston Lawndale campus in 1979.]. He then offered the younger audience some experience based advise on the type of dedication and some of the tough decisions which have to be made to pursue a career as a sculptor.

Surls ended by switching hats from that of sculptor to that of board member of the International Sculpture Center, and transitioned the closing ceremony into a business meeting . He encouraged those present to come together and form a coalition or consortium to facilitate greater communication among the sculptors of Texas. Sara Waters and Mary Hale-Visser took it from there and quickly identified interested parties willing to serve in a loosely based body focused not only on organization and increased communication among Texas Sculptors, but more importantly, focused on planning another Texas Sculpture Symposium in 2005.

It was agreed by loud consensus that the 8th Texas Sculpture Symposium should be organized next year at around the same time, and should be held at the Junction, Texas campus because of its stimulating central Texas location and the on-campus availability of housing, and dining facilities.

Sara Waters and Mary Hale-Visser are currently working with the following sculpture professionals and sculptors to organize the consortium and next year’s symposium:
Roger Colombik, professor of art, Texas State University, San Marcos
Randy Jewart, sculptor, Austin
Ken Little, professor of art, UT-San Antonio
Additionally, a group of sculptors and students have volunteered to support the next symposium as needed. They include:
Robbie Barber, assistant professor of art, Baylor, Waco
Cameron Schoepp, associate professor of art, TCU, Fort Worth
Katy Heinlein, artist, Houston
Julia Ousley, sculptor, Arlington
Fred Spaulding, assistant professor of art, UT-Pan American, McAllen
Chad Plunket, artist/instructor, Texas Tech University College of Architecture, Lubbock

The following students are also on board:
Kevin Erben (Texas State University), Jessica Monroe (Southwestern University), Jonathan Whitfill (Texas Tech) also Shreepad Joglekar (Texas Tech) and Kristi Todd (Texas State University) are creating a website. We are continuing to build a database of sculptors throughout the state.

Frances Whitehead with Ken Little.

First session panelists: Frances Whitehead, George Lorio, Ken Little, Katy Hainlein, Stephen Daly, Mary Hale-Visser, and moderator Sara Waters.

Mary Hale-Visser's slideshow on rapid prototyping of digital sculpture.

Amy Gerhauser preparing cupola with Britt Trolinder (center) and Mike Phillips (right) prior to iron pour session.

James Surls during closing address and starting the business meeting to discuss the next Texas Sculpture Symposium.