As the sun began to set on campus, another fire was burning bright orange and red at the York Art Studio. It came from the iron pour and casting demonstration performed Feb.12 by artist Preston Gilchrist, director of exhibitions and education at the River Oaks Arts Center in Alexandria, La.
He explained the process.
“We heat scrap iron and pour the metal into the molds for the castings,” he said. “Hershall (Seals) and Phil (Dun-ham) combined their art classes, and their students created the individual mold pieces used in the pouring. It’s an interesting concept and is a labor intensive project.”
Professor of art Philip Dunham said, “It’s been a lot of work. Preston and his team drove eight hours from Louisiana, and we have been out here all day breaking up iron.”
Dunham also wants to stimulate students to get involved.
“You don’t have to have any experience to make something just as good as someone with experience,” he said. “I encourage students to take art, but you don’t have to have an art background. It’s a process of discovery.”
Chair of the art department, Hershall Seals, wanted to get-up close exposure.
“Our students got to meet and work with another non-faculty artist and to see first hand how inventive, helpful and hard-working artists tend to be,” he said. “Preston Gilchrist is a great example for students in this regard.”
Seals also wanted to capture the curiosity of non-art students.
“We brought the iron pour to campus so that art metals and sculpture students could understand the process of this exciting media and to generate interest from the general public, both of which were accomplished,” he said.
Senior accounting/marketing major Russell Persky was interested in gaining insight from the demonstration.
“I’m not much of an artist,” he said, “but this has broadened my horizons.”
Junior theology/philosophy major Lydia Schmidt took a liking as well.
“I think it’s really cool,” she said. “It’s really interesting, and it’s not your typical art.”
Many students were involved with the abstract mold castings. Senior art major Amanda Garcia was one of them.
“We made Styrofoam molds for the castings,” she said. “You definitely explore yourself and individuality in art. You are able to think outside of the box and create things.”
Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, Ted Barnes, encourages everyone from the university to attend art events, saying that art can be a good socialization tool.
“We’re trying to get more promotion out,” he said. “More people need to come out and see the exhibit and demonstration openings. This is a cultural event that most people never get to see. Most of our exhibits and demonstrations are free of charge and make great dates. Bring your date out. It’ll show that you have cultural education.”
Junior art major Gail Allard was grateful for the experience.
“Art feeds the soul,” she said. “It’s important to keep art alive and moving. I like the atmosphere here at UMHB. I love the professors’ guidance. Going to a small art school gives a finer tuning of instruction. The art professors make sure you’re in line, and they are always willing to help you.”
Sophomore sports science major Roger Sanchez was appreciative that Gilchrist decided to share his love for art with the university.
“It’s really neat that Preston traveled all the way from Louisiana to do the iron pour. This really opened my eyes to the different types of art that people can experience.”
Gilchrist enjoyed his visit and anticipates another trip to visit Crusaders.
“I was pleased with the student participation,” he said. “It was a pleasant experience. Making new friends is a big part of it and enjoyable. Hopefully, we can do it again in the future.”