West Shore Community College will unveil a new outdoor sculpture, by the late local artist Manierre Dawson, in a ceremony on September 21, at 2 p.m., outside of the Schoenherr Campus Center.
The nine-foot high bronze sculpture, titled Daedayl, has been placed on the north side of the campus center and is the latest addition to the college’s growing collection of Dawson’s work. Seven paintings and sculptures comprise the college’s current collection and, earlier this month, three more pieces were added by a donor.
The sculpture was funded by a financial gift to the college’s foundation from Dr. Andrew Riemer.
“We are excited share the Manierre Dawson sculpture with the community. It is the first public outdoor sculpture on the campus and the first large scale outdoor Dawson sculpture of its kind ever,” said Scott Ward, WSCC president. “We are grateful for Dr. Riemer’s generosity and support of this project.”
Daedayl is an abstract representation of a standing figure consisting of one continuous line that bends and curls throughout the length of the composition. Dawson took the title from the name “Daedalus,” the character in Greek mythology who was employed as an architect, engineer and artist by Minos, the king of Crete.
Art historians consider Dawson to be America’s first abstract artist. His work is in permanent art collections throughout the country. Dawson studied civil engineering and worked for an architectural firm in his native Chicago, and in 1910, he toured Europe to study art and architecture. There he met influential artists and art collectors, and three years later, was invited to participate in the historic Armory Show in Chicago.
In 1914, he purchased a fruit farm in Riverton Township next to his family’s summer home, where he raised a family and maintained orchards – and continued to create art. His relationship with West Shore dates to the earliest days of the college when he donated a piece to kick off West Shore’s permanent art collection in 1969, shortly before his death.
Daedayl has been added to the Mason County Sculpture Trail, a series of sculptural pieces located throughout the county. Dr. William Anderson, chair of the Cultural Economic Development Task Force which oversees the trail, said he welcomes the addition of the Dawson piece, recognizing West Shore as the logical site for the piece.
“The college has an important role in art education and art appreciation,” he said. “And here was Manierre Dawson, a pioneer in abstract contemporary art living in our community.”
Arizona sculpture consultant Beth Lauterbach, who has assisted with several previous sculpture trail projects, was enlisted to work directly with the foundry which produced the piece.
She soon discovered that reproducing the sculpture was no small task. The greatest challenges, she said, was to maintain the visual integrity of the piece when scaling the 45-inch original to nine feet and fashioning bronze to appear carved from the same composite wood as the original. Selecting appropriate materials to withstand Great Lakes winters was a consideration as well.
Based on Lauterbach’s suggestions, a 3D image of the original sculpture was scaled up 240% to create a Styrofoam model. The model was then shipped to Tyson Snow, an artist in Utah who completed the reproduction. “You have to work with professionals of the utmost caliber,” said Lauterbach. “I’ve worked with Snow on a number of projects, and I know what a perfectionist he is.”
At a Utah foundry, Snow dismantled a nine foot 3D image, and created the molds into which molten bronze was poured. The figure was reassembled, and the details and patina added.
An architectural firm associated with the college designed the brick plaza which serves as the framework for the sculpture. The firm carefully considered the sculpture’s placement in relation to existing structures and its appearance in both daylight and darkness. The bronze piece has been placed atop a five-foot black granite pedestal and is illuminated by lighting.
The sculpture will honor a revolutionary artist who lived in Mason County for 55 years and will recognize him as a part of local heritage. “Dawson is important and was influential to an art style,” said Thom Hawley, executive director of college relations and sculpture plaza project manager. “The sculpture on the campus will tell those who view it that he came from us, he’s one of us.”
A public reception will follow the unveiling ceremony in the campus center atrium and the newly renovated book store.