Warrick creates public sculptures for Arkansas, Texas

Michael Warrick stands by his sculpture, “Straight Lines on a Round World,” in front of the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock, which commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase Survey.

A University of Arkansas at Little Rock art professor used his summer break wisely to create two public works of art for a university in Arkansas and a community in Texas.

In Arkansas, Michael Warrick, professor of sculpture, created a bronze sculpture portraying the benefits of meditation for the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. The sculpture, “Vision,” will encompass a four-foot-tall, 3D-printed portrait cast in bronze and mounted on a three-foot steel base.

“The sculpture represents a man in meditation, and the back side of the sculpture is an exact negative of the front of the sculpture made in golf leaf,” Warrick said. “There are many metaphors at work in this piece. Gold is one of the most precious metals on Earth, and its inclusion symbolizes that the mind is one of the most precious gifts a person has. There are also illusions to the negative and positive. The sculpture shows how people may be calm on the outside while a storm is brewing on the inside.”

The piece is a part of a series of sculptures Warrick created called “Portraits of Peace.” Utilizing contemporary 3D scanning and scaling technology, Warrick produced monumentally scaled portraits reflecting the benefits of meditation and spiritual centeredness. The project was partially funded through a $2,480 Summer Research Fellowship Grant Warrick received from the UA Little Rock College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences in 2018.

Michael Warrick's model of "Vision."
Michael Warrick’s model of “Vision.”

Along with his sculpture, the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith will hold an exhibit featuring Warrick’s work. “Perspectives on Darkness and Light” will be on display through Sept. 30. 

The exhibit displays a range of Warrick’s sculptures from the past decade as well as 20 sketchbook drawings from the last 20 years. The work includes figurative and portrait motifs as a means of expression.

Warrick will give a special lecture, “Portrait of Peace Project: Creating Vision,” at UAFS at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, in the Fine Art Theater Room 107. He will discuss the sculpture’s inspiration, creating the 3-D printed model, 3-D printing on a monumental scale, casting the bronze portrait in 12 pieces, failures and lessons from the casting process, and the fabrication process for the unusually shaped base. Following the lecture, “Vision” will be installed near the south entrance of the Windgate Art and Design building as an addition to the UAFS permanent collection of art.

In his second public art project of the summer, Warrick created an 18-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture, “The Mockingbird Tree,” for the community of Southlake, Texas.

The Southlake Arts Council selected Warrick’s design from 18 proposals. The piece celebrates the mockingbird tree as one of the state’s natural resources and represents the medical, retail, and residential developments surrounding the roundabout where the sculpture will be placed at Zena Rucker Road and Tower Boulevard.

The sculpture also incorporates three mockingbirds, the state bird of Texas, and is another symbol of how the roundabout connects the three neighborhoods for the public good. 

“The sculpture is inspired by a drawing by my daughter, Annika, when she was a child,” Warrick said. “She has served as an inspiration for many of my pieces over the years. Sometimes, the ideas of children are some of the best. I want people to take away a little bit of whimsy and beauty and simplicity from this sculpture.”

Warrick is also receiving some local help to complete the interstate project. GC Evans Sales and Manufacturing Company in Little Rock has donated space in its warehouse for Warrick to work on the sculpture over the summer.

Michael's Warrick's rendering of "The Mockingbird Tree."
Michael’s Warrick’s rendering of “The Mockingbird Tree.”
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