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Surls comissioned to create sculpture for LU quadrangle

James SurlsTexas-native artist James Surls has been commissioned to create Lamar University’s newest art addition to bring inspiration and beauty to the campus.

“Everyone can be inspired by art,” said Kim Steinhagen, Public Art Committee co-chair, “It is one of those things that enriches our lives the more we are exposed to it, and it beautifies the campus. We love the landscaping on campus and art is just another part of that.”

Surls is a nature-inspired modernist artist, known for his carved sculptures and bronze and steel works. He graduated from Sam Houston State Teachers College (now Sam Houston State University) and received his MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art. His work has been featured in many galleries around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, as well as in Canada, China, France, Mexico, and other countries.

Surls made a personal trip to Beaumont to create his design.

“He designed a piece for us that he felt would look good in the space. He really liked the quad, he liked the trees, the outdoor feel and the natural look of it and so we picked a spot right outside the Lucas Engineering Building. Once he saw the space, he came back with a drawing,” said Steinhagen.

The sculpture is being specially created for Lamar in signature Surls style.

“It will be stainless steel with bronze flowers and including the eye images, that imitate bark on aspen trees in Colorado, where Surls currently lives,” said Steinhagen. “He wants it to look like it is growing out of the ground. The landscapers will build a berm that Surls will line with hand-selected river rocks from Oklahoma.”

Surls Bronze Eye FlowerSurls is currently creating the 11-foot by 8-foot piece in his Colorado studio, and will deliver it to the campus on a flatbed trailer upon completion. It will then be anchored to the ground and receive periodic cleaning and maintenance said Steinhagen.

With the renovation of the Setzer Student Center, the committee was given a budget to purchase new art.The piece was purchased with one percent of the state funded building construction budget designated for art said Steinhagen.

Due to the construction in the quadrangle, a completion date has not yet been set for the installation.

“We are hoping to have it installed by late October or early November. We are waiting for a date, but we would love to do a public reveal,” said Steinhagen.

Steinhagen thinks that adding art to campus can benefit the campus as a whole.

“Art is such an important part of our lives and we are hoping the art students and everybody can learn from it,” said Steinhagen, “It exposes you to creativity and no matter what your discipline is, you can be creative in it.”

For more information about James Surls, visit jamessurls.com.