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Arrested Form: Sculpture by the Texas Atomic Iron Commission at the Dishman Art Museum

Arrested Form exhibitsThe room is more than 10 feet tall and 20 feet long. It’s populated with tables, a chair, a lamp, books, a bowl of fruit, even a pair of boots. Landscape art decorates the walls. And every item in it, including the room itself, is made of cast iron and steel.

Ed Wilson’s “Ironist Interior,” is one of about 30 pieces by 15 artists on display at the Dishman Art Museum on the campus of Lamar University in “Arrested Form: Recent Sculpture by the Texas Atomic Iron Commission.” The exhibition opens with a reception at 7 p.m. Friday, April 1.
“Arrested Form” presents sculpture by Texas-based artists working in the medium of iron. The works explore themes of mapping, wonder and playfulness in sculptures that range from 8 inches to more than 12 feet in height.

“One of the most exciting things is the incredible variety of sculpture that people came up with,” said Jessica Dandona, art historian and director of the Dishman Art Museum. “Some seem almost toylike in their simplicity, while others are large installations like ‘Ironist Interior,’ that create entire sculptural environments.”

The exhibit also includes small-scale pedestal sculptures, many of which are “quite playful and tongue-in-cheek,” according to Dandona, in addition to a series of wall reliefs and a number of installations that Dandona refers to as “interactive works that come into your space.”

Officially founded in 2007, the Texas Atomic Iron Commission is a collaborative organization that brings together universities, industry, students and artists. The commission provides members with opportunities to network, exhibit their art and exchange ideas. In addition to Lamar, participating institutions include Abilene Christian University, Baylor University, Keen Foundry, St. Edward’s University, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas Woman’s University and the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

The exhibition, which is co-curated by Dandona and Kurt Dyrhaug, associate professor of art, will highlight the challenging techniques behind the creation of contemporary metal sculpture by holding an iron pour on the lawn in front of the museum at the opening-night reception on April 1.

"Iron pours are extremely difficult and sometimes taxing, so it is very special and unusual that we are able to offer this demonstration,” said Dandona.

The iron pour will demonstrate the complex process by which most of the sculptures in the exhibition were created. The demanding procedure involves heating iron to 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit until it is molten and then pouring it into a mold to form a sculpture. Dyrhaug, along with other Lamar faculty and students, will start the furnace at 5 p.m. with the goal of having molten iron by 7:15 p.m. They will melt and pour 100 pounds of iron into premade molds. According to Dyrhaug, a typical iron pour would involve 1,000 pounds of iron. The iron will cool for about 20 minutes before Dyrhaug opens the molds to reveal the new sculptures.

“Traditionally, iron has not been a material to cast artwork with, like bronze,” said Dyrhaug. “But over the last 30 years, it’s become more prevalent, based on people in academia teaching these procedures and because it’s more affordable than bronze. ‘Arrested Form’ shows the different visions of a number of talented artists working in this new medium.”

Light refreshments will be served at the reception on April 1. The exhibition will run through April 21. Admission to the reception and the exhibition is free.

The Dishman Art Museum is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and is located at 1030 East Lavaca, Beaumont, Texas. Free museum-dedicated parking is available in front of the Dishman during museum hours. Call (409) 880-8959 for more information or visit lamar.edu/dishman.