Creative Focus

A Fresh Look at Art—Sculpture Alfresco

By Lynn Rees-Jones

Around the world, those who thrive on spending time with art have been limited in access to museums and art experiences. As a result, there has been a surge in interest in outdoor sculpture as a way to enjoy art without the constraints of being indoors during a time of social distancing and health concerns. Those living in or visiting the Boone area are in luck because the campus of Appalachian State University is a haven of outdoor sculpture that is accessible to all.

Sculpture has long been an element of the university and the current collection of more than 50 works is diverse in materials, size, design and style. While the majority of sculptures are permanent, a fresh contingent of nine sculptures were installed across campus in July as part of the Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Competition, a national, juried competition presented by the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts and An Appalachian Summer Festival. For the last 34 years, the exhibition has showcased contemporary sculpture from across the United States.

Each year, an artist is invited to jury the competition and this year juror Rachel Stevens selected 10 sculpture finalists. Stevens’ passion for art serves as a flying carpet of sorts, inspiring travels to many countries around the world. She reflected on the impact of sculpture and the Rosen Sculpture Exhibition during the challenges of COVID-19 with the simple but universal statement, “With art there is hope.”

The sculptures in the current Rosen exhibition range from biomorphic to whimsical to intriguing and the artists have expressed their three-dimensional concepts with expert craftsmanship utilizing a variety of materials, including cast resin, bronze and concrete, as well as steel with a variety of finishes.

Among the sculptures in this year’s competition is Glenn Zweygardt’s Remembering Giotto,

which resembles an abstract figure of playful totemic quality with a variety of surfaces, forms, and bright colors. Another of the sculptures, Light Pulse by Hanna Jubran, is a collection of vertical elements that feature distinct geometric forms in bright primary colors. These two sculptors share in that they are both very playful and whimsical.

Phoenix by Rudy Rudisill, resembles an abstract interpretation of a towering rooster and has a really fun folk art sensibility. Teeter Tower by Matt Amante, consists of five circular, sky blue circular forms. Some have a little nub protruding from their centers. Stevens shared that she feels this piece “boils down to a kind of visual music”.

Three of the sculptures are made primarily of rusted, patinated or oxidized steel and present intriguing form, patina and detail. Wayne Vaughn’s The Dance is made from painted and patinated steel and is comprised of a large orb covered with protruding spheres and spikes and is rich in texture and form. Though it was created prior to COVID-19, its structure is reminiscent of the now ubiquitous virus. Steampunk Babylon by Charles Pilkey is a formative cylindrical telescoping form that reaches skyward and is punctuated by a variety of intriguing figures and shapes. David Boyajian’s Unfurling Rising is welded from oxidized steel and is a bundled assemblage of graceful curvilinear stems which come together to suggest a figurative form.

In contrast to the other sculptures, Tom Scicluna’s Scheme speaks to a minimalist tradition in sculpture. It is made of concrete parking bumpers and rebar and is relatable in that it is created from recognizable found objects.

The sculptures of the 34th Rosen Exhibition will remain on campus until May 2022 and the winner from last year, A Memorial by Bob Doster, is on view on the grounds of the Turchin Center along with previous winner Tetness, the Polar Bear by James Futral. The sculptures can also be viewed digitally. Access to a virtual tour, digital map and learning guide are available at Printed maps are available at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts and at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts during open hours, which will fluctuate in the foreseeable future.

The annual exhibition and competition program is made possible by the generous support of the Martin and Doris Rosen Giving Fund/Debbie Rosen Davidson and David Rosen, and the Charles and Nancy Rosenblatt Foundation.

The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts is the largest facility of its kind in the region and fulfills Appalachian State University’s long-held mission of providing a home for world-class visual arts programming. The TCVA is located at 423 West King St., in Boone. Regular hours are 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Tuesday – Thursday and Saturday, and Noon – 8 p.m., Friday. Check the website for schedule changes due to Covid-19. Admission is always free. Parking on campus is free after 5 p.m. and on weekends. For more information or to schedule a tour, call 828-262-3017 or visit You can also follow the Turchin Center on Facebook and Instagram @TurchinCenter.

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