The Dearborn Sculpture Fest kicked off its second year with a new twist — it joined the annual Museum Guild of Dearborn Beer Tasting fundraiser for a night of fun, drinks and artwork.
The winners of the second annual Dearborn Sculpture Fest, included Soul Seer, a majestic owl, the first-place sculpture created by Sasha and George Corder, with Aine Merrow (mermaid), created by Jeff and Sara Drushal, taking second place honors. A team of welders from Henry Ford College took the third-place prize with the metallic monster Ferrum Terrorum.
Sculptor Chris Nordin, who owns the Glass Academy in Dearborn, created the sculpture “Inside an Artist’s Mind,” which he said is a self-portrait. He said the mass of silver aluminum radiator line which forms the outer shell of the globe-like mass represents the thoughts that are not deeply imbedded in his mind, while the red copper wire deep inside the sphere represents his internal creative thoughts.
“At this stage of the game in my life I’ve got a lot going on, and I was just completely overwhelmed when I made the piece, so, it represented what was going on in my head at the time,” Nordin said. “I think a lot of people have an uneasy state of mind right now because there is so much going on. I think it makes people think about what state of mind they are in.”
He said the sculptors participating in the Dearborn Sculpture Fest went to a scrap yard and were allowed to select up to 500 pounds of scrap materials to use for their sculpture.
“It’s about going there, picking the pieces that you are attracted to, and then going back to the studio to turn those pieces into a beautiful piece of art that people like to look at and has some type of conceptual concept behind it,” Nordin said.
Nordin said he is on the committee that helped plan the Dearborn Sculpture Fest, now in its second year, with Jackie Lovejoy, president of the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce.
“I think it is a really good exercise for artists that get caught up in the mundane process of making a lot of art to survive,” he said. “So when you have an opportunity for artists to be able to go into a scrap yard and pick out miscellaneous pieces, and then go back to your studio and have a completely open palette, with some cool pieces that you picked just because you are attracted to them for some reason, is an amazing exercise.”
Nordin also used some glass pieces he took out of the scrap bin at the Glass Academy. He said he offered to make glass components for the other sculptors, and while none took him up on his offer this year, he hopes that some will next year.
Nordin said he anticipates that the sculpture fest will grow and attract more artists each year.
“It’s nice,” he said. “It’s like a little vacation from the real world.”
Welder Tim Prichard, who was part of a group from Henry Ford College who created the third-place piece, the monster “Ferrum Terrorum,” said they are either welders going through the college’s program, alumni or staff.
“I’m a welder; that’s what I do,” Prichard said. “We decided it was an opportunity for us to get out and actually do something else, so we said, ‘let’s go ahead.’”
Prichard said this is the first time he’s created a sculpture. He said the group grabbed a bunch of materials from the scrap metal yard and let the material inspire them. He said they cut it up into the basic components, then collaboratively started adding ideas to the sculpture. Soon, they were adding more pieces to the wings, which became more detailed and elaborate.
“If you ever look at the old Godzilla movies, we threw some stuff like that in there, and one of the teachers threw some Alien type stuff in there,” Prichard said. “We had all sorts of ideas being thrown at that, and we said, ‘These are the parts that we have – what can we do with this?’ so, that is kind of how we went from there.”
Sasha Corder, who made the first-place sculpture, “Soul Seer,” with her grandfather George Corder, said the pieces they selected at the scrap yard seemed to form themselves into the owl.
“With the lighted heart in the middle, it is kind of a guiding beacon,” she said. “If you are looking for knowledge, there is somebody there to light the way for you.”
She said her grandfather’s welding, material and metal fabrication skills were an asset to the joint effort.
Corder said the owl’s feathers were made from pipes, which were cut into pieces, then cut in half, hammered out and cut to shape. The body was assembled from six separate pieces, with six elbows which form the body, with pipes they fabricated to fit as ribbing. The heart is a vintage lantern, while the eyes were made from grinder wire wheels and reflective plastic.
The face is a bicycle seat, the eyebrows are bicycle spokes and the back of the head is a sand sifter for sandblasting, painted with a landscape where the owl is “dreaming of going.” The owl also rotates on its base. It was built in three pieces, making it easier to move than one heavy piece would be.
Corder said she likes to work with metal and wood, but also does a lot of acrylic painting and clay sculpting. She said she loves the smell of wood when working with it.
“It’s a campfire without the fire,” she said, with a smile.
Corder said when she was pondering paint colors for the owl, she thought of Hedwig, Harry Potter’s owl.
“I am an artist, and most of my family are (in) trades, so it just kind of all collectively blends together,” Corder said.
Team Snap, Crackle and Pop, another family team, with Jim Alonzi, Deborah Ploski and Anthony Alonzi, 12, created two sculpture entries: Prosperity Bells, and Tortoise.
Anthony Alonzi said he cut and hammered pieces for the turtle, and helped hang the bells, upon which he also plays tunes. He said he likes the creativeness of the process.
Jim Alonzi said Ploski is the one who gave the tortoise and cattails its painted surface color.
He said the bells are fabricated from welding tanks, and finding the tanks, which are federally regulated, was an exciting find.
Ploski said all of the materials they found provided them with direction.
“One of the awesome parts of this event is you go to a scrap yard, and you’re like, ‘What can I find?’” she said. “It really informs the way the piece ends up looking.”
Artist Sunshine Durant said she thinks the Sculpture Fest is a great event for Dearborn, and the idea of holding it in conjunction with the Beer Tasting is a positive move.
Durant said that last year, she won the event with a sculpture she made with her daughter, Sasha Corder, whose owl, made with Corder’s grandfather, won first place this year.
“I would love to see more art out in public, and I like seeing that we are bringing the artists out and together,” Durant said.
Other entries included: David Such’s “Homage to David Smith,” (an American sculptor); Team CHAL’s “Nature’s Door,” made by five resident artists of the Dearborn City Hall Art Space Lofts; Amanda and Israel Nordin and Team Midtown’s “The Young and the Old,” “Clean Water,” and “Beyond Space and Time;” Fred Hammond’s “Man with Shield;” Ethan and Andy Sandstet and Manny Lopez of Team Artistic Iron’s “Amaryllis by Morning;” DeKoy Metal’s “T4 Bacteriophage;” a 2017 Lansing ScrapFest entry, “Mackinaw Bridge;” Kevin and William Bowen’s unnamed sculpture representing the balance of life and scale one’s mind; and Danielle Gamelin and Lawson King’s “Michelangelo’s Hand.”