College of Wooster Winter 2012 : Page 27

WALTER ZURKO From cardboard to clay—teaching to trust Walter Zurko, professor of art, is known to many stu-dents who took a sculpture class at Wooster in the past 30 years. An award-winning sculptor himself, Zurko hopes his students leave with sharpened visual literacy, the ability to develop their ideas, carry them out, exhibit them, and explain them to others. While many students arrive feeling confident about expressing their ideas with two-dimensional art, adding a third dimension can be challenging, he says. “Adding depth, space, and gravity to art is huge. The viewer must be able to walk around the piece—be physically involved with the art—without it falling apart or breaking down, both literally and visually.” It is essential to understand both the attributes and limi-tations of diverse materials—from cardboard, to string, to clay, says Zurko. “We begin studying sculpting materials by looking at their evolution as artistic media. In the early 20th century, we see artists moving beyond the use of traditional “living” materials, like stone, wood, clay, plaster, and metal, and begin including new media, such as plastics, rubber, light, and found objects. More recently, materials include every day items like matchsticks and Styrofoam cups. “Students are sometimes intimidated by the material; my role is to help them trust their own capabilities.” After students have completed an assignment, they exhibit it in the uncluttered space in Ebert Hall’s MacKenzie Gallery and explain it in a group critique to their classmates, who provide feedback. “How students present their art is as important as the work itself,” says Zurko. “It allows them to learn and express the language of art.” Art major SeungRyong Riew ’14 discusses an upcoming assignment with Professor Walter Zurko. Students in Art 163, Introduction to Sculpture, work on their projects in the studio in the basement of Ebert Art Center. Sophie Steck ’15, explains her project, “River,” to her classmates. P H OTO S Karol Crosbie W I N T E R 2 0 1 2 Wooster 27

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