Guest artist and alum Aaron Hussey is creating a heavenly piece of art at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Hussey, a sculptor from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, visited the Windgate Center for Art and Design in January to cast bronze elements for his sculpture of St. Gabriel, the archangel, which he is creating for the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge. He was joined by Michael Warrick, a professor of art at UA Little Rock, art student Eric Span, and local artists Patrick Fleming and Andy Huss.
When the sculpture is completed, it will stand in front of St. Gabriel The Archangel Catholic Church in St. Gabriel, Louisiana. St. Gabriel is the oldest surviving church structure in the entire Mississippi River Valley.
St. Gabriel will be wearing traditional Roman-period armor and have attributes of a trumpet and Easter Lily, said Hussey, who will return to campus in February to continue work on the sculpture.
Hussey graduated from UA Little Rock with a Bachelor of Arts degree with an emphasis in sculpture and drawing in 1993 and a Master of Art degree in studio art in 1998. He then earned his Master of Fine Arts from Louisiana State University in 2002. He worked as a research specialist for the School of Art at LSU until 2007, when he became a full-time artist specializing in public art with commissions from across the country.
Some of Hussey’s work can be viewed in Little Rock. In partnership with Warrick, he created the 2017 sculpture, “Straight Lines on a Round World,” that lies in front of the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock. The duo also worked together on theLittle Rock Central High School Commemorative Garden, which was dedicated in 2001 to honor the Little Rock Nine and the spirit of Central High School.
One of his most recent pieces of public art is “Undercurrent,” in Othello, Washington, a stainless-steel sculpture that honors agriculture in the region.
“Undercurrent represents the agricultural, high-desert region of Washington,” Hussey said. “With rich, volcanic soil and irrigation from the Columbia River, the area is rich in agriculture.”
Whenever Hussey is commissioned a new piece, he spends time driving around the area and researching local history, looking for local elements that can provide inspiration for the piece. In “Undercurrent,” for example, parts of his sculpture represent the undercurrent of the Columbia River, the steel bridges that cross the river, irrigation pivots that bring water to farmland, and branches that represent orchards of local produce.
“My work is all about bridging the natural environment and the built environment,” Hussey said.
Hussey was introduced to art at a young age, and his love for art grew as he spent his childhood exposed to the vibrant art scenes of New Orleans.
“I got my first drawing table when I was 6. My dad was an illustrator and painter on the side,” Hussey said. “Growing up in New Orleans, there are artists everywhere. He and I would go to the French Quarter and to the museums on the weekend to check out all the artists.”
Even though Hussey began college as a science major planning to work in the medical field, like most of his family members, he made the pivotal decision to pursue art as a career.
“When I transferred to UA Little Rock, I changed my major from science to art,” Hussey said. “It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders when I started doing artwork. It was like a weight was lifted off my soul.”