League of Sculptors explores new fundraising methods

Stephanie Jessie

Tucked down a long hallway, hidden by sheet music stands and theater posters, is the Sculpture 171-177 room that stands as the home for the League of Sculptors, a group of students who want to share their talents with the community.

“We want to be able to get to a point where we can kind of have more of a community presence,” Sarah Sperry said.

Sperry transferred from the University of Louisville in 2010 and is set to graduate this December.

“We’re kind of stuck away in a corner,” she said. “We’ve got two floors between us and the rest of the art department. We try to give people a little bit of a show. Like ‘hey, we’re here! Come see what we do. It’s a lot of fun.’” 

The group has talked about painting murals on neighborhood walls and creating an outdoor museum.

“We’re all really caring people,” Sperry said. “That’s a group of people that genuinely care about not only each other, but just trying to make it better.”

After starting a similar group at the University of Iowa during graduate school, professor and sculptor David Marquez wanted to start something that had the same sense of community within the sculptor department at WKU. He helped found the League after he arrived in 2007 and has remained one of the League’s biggest staff supporters.

“It was about developing community,” he said. “Getting the students engaged in helping each other a little bit more, having that outside of a classroom sort of dialogue.”

Marquez is the secretary for the Mid-South Sculpture Alliance and is also on the board for the Sculpture Trails Outdoor Museum in Indiana, which is an outdoor museum that features artists’ work along different trails in a forest in Solsberry, Indiana.

The idea of a walk along, outdoor trail  is something Marquez has been interested in bringing to the community, along with potentially displaying different art work throughout the city.

Lack of funds has prevented the League from completing these plans. After confusion with the Student Government Association on whether or not the League was an official campus club (currently, by SGA standards, the League of Sculptors is not official) and general university budget cuts, funding for the group has dropped dramatically. The money they did receive was put toward a safety saw that stops instantly when flesh touches the blade. 

For the rest of the projects the group does, like the Potter College Fall Festival demonstrations, their own money is used.

“Whatever you think (projects) would cost, add so much more to it,” Sperry said.

During previous Potter College Fall Festivals, the League made scratch block molds, which allowed the user to carve a design into the mold. The Sculptors would pour aluminum into the molds and give the end result to the participant: a 3D aluminum tile designed by the participant. The cost of the molds, though, prevented the group from continuing the tradition this year.

Costs for the molds include an expensive three-part chemical, resin, sand and the wood the molds are poured into to create their shape. Add in the time spent making them and multiply that by the 150 molds the group normally uses for the festival–that leaves an expensive way to promote the talents and existence of the League of Sculptors. 

This year, the group still poured aluminum as a way of promotion, but just used the materials they bought themselves and poured projects for personal or class use. 

“It was all volunteer effort,” Sperry said. “We were just like ‘well, you know, we can’t really get everybody as involved as we’d like to be, but we can put on a little bit of a show and be like this is the stuff that you guys can do…please come join us’ and just try to get the word out a little bit.”

The group is currently using their talents to raise money by selling their creative work.

“We figured out how to make record bowls,” Sperry said. “We were, like, playing with flame torches and stuff.”

The League has a dual-location bake sale planned for Friday, Nov. 7. One table will be set up in the Java City area and the second will be in the Centennial Mall area. Along with the baked goods, the group will be selling their record bowls, spoon jewelry and trivets, or metal pot plates, which were made at the Fall Festival.

“We’re trying to go on a group trip to St. Louis and check out all the museums and all the opportunities there,” Sperry said.

A claustrophobic work space and lack of resources have also stalled the group’s sculptor-planting efforts.

Marquez says that additional staff and faculty support is needed for the group to succeed.

“We do it because we care,” Sperry said. “We’re basically trying to become more than people that sometimes make FAC smell really weird.”

For more information on how to join the League or to keep up with purchasing opportunities, visit the WKU: League of Sculptors or the WKU Art Guild groups on Facebook or visit the Sculpture Room 171-177 in FAC.