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National Endowment for the Arts to Support Community Sculpture Project on Appalachian Campus

April 12, 2016

Funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is supporting a community-based public art project titled “Building Sculpture, Building Community: Extending the Reach of the Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition,” to be unveiled this summer at Appalachian State University.

Since February, North Carolina sculptor Pam Brewer has been working with local residents representing underserved communities across the High Country to design and fabricate a public sculpture, to be installed on campus later this month and presented during the annual Rosen Sculpture Walk, Saturday, July 23. The project will be a highlight of the 30th Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Competition and Exhibition, a national juried competition presented annually by the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts and featured as part of An Appalachian Summer Festival.

The NEA’s “Challenge America Program” supports arts organizations that create access to quality arts programming for groups whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics or disability. Through its existing outreach program, the Turchin Center staff has formed relationships with organizations representing these constituencies, and they were invited to participate in the project. A group of 20 community members came together in February to begin the design process for the sculpture. Art students at Avery High School completed the design and are building the piece from start to finish.

Guiding the process is sculptor Pam Brewer, whose inspiration and hands-on support has allowed the group’s vision to come to life. The design concept for the sculpture consists of totem poles, constructed with mosaic, a medium Brewer feels is ideal for the project. “Through the use of totems,” she explained, “we will create sculptural stacked forms, telling the story of what we dream or hope for our community. The process of mosaic enables diverse parts of the community to explore themselves as part of a greater whole, and to collaborate on the completion of a sculpture, much like the act of creating a mosaic is about putting together disparate parts to complete a picture.”

“We are thrilled to be embarking on this new venture, which extends the reach of the Rosen Sculpture program and provides community members with an opportunity to participate in the process of creating public art,” said Hank Foreman, senior associate vice chancellor for advancement.

For the past three decades, the Rosen Sculpture Competition program has brought a remarkable array of contemporary sculpture to the Appalachian campus. Each season, a nationally renowned figure from the world of contemporary sculpture is selected to serve as the competition’s juror and to narrow the field of Rosen applicants to 10 sculptures, which are situated in outdoor public settings across the university campus. 

The legacy of Martin and Doris Rosen, for whom the exhibition is named, has been continued with the generous support of the Rosen Family, and has enabled the program to flourish and continue to explore new avenues for the presentation and enjoyment of contemporary sculpture.

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