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Annual exhibition

Welcome to the annual Washburn University Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition. This show features a variety of artistic expressions and demonstrates the university's continued commitment to the aesthetic and cultural enhancement of its campus. 

In addition to the five sculptures on the University campus, two works also are featured at the Washburn Institute of Technology campus, 5724 S.W. Huntoon St.

Statement from juror

Outdoor sculpture is a celebration. When we approach a sculpture in nature, we relate to the materials, the colors, the textures and the scale -- simultaneously. We relate to the visual weight of the materials and the sense of movement the materials convey. Artists are somewhat limited to materials choices because of weather variations, safety and sturdiness. Metals, stone, concrete and wood are most likely to stand up to the rigors of the outdoors. Looking at how the artists express their ideas to solve the technical problems is part of the fascination.

The artists I selected for the 2014-2015 sculpture exhibition take these materials and change them into something new. Rebar becomes figurative, cast-off metal becomes mysterious environment. Something as solid as wood and steel can express a sense of soaring. The sculptures change the space they are in, and the surrounding space can influence how we relate to the sculptures. This is one of the successes of Washburn University's outdoor sculpture program. Where the art will go is part of the installation planning, so that the pieces seem to fit where they are. This makes the sculptures feel more natural, like a discovery.

Sherry Best, art collection curator, Alice C. Sabatini Gallery, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library

Campus Beautification Committee

The Campus Beautification Committee organizes the annual exhibition. Committee members are: Jim Bass, Topeka, Jeanne Bertelson, Topeka, Yoshi Gerner, Topeka, Jamie Hancock, Topeka, Greg Inkmann, Topeka, Roberta Krull, Berryton, Janet Martinek, Silver Lake, Rosemary Menninger, Topeka, Carroll Morgenson, Berryton, Jere Noe, Topeka, Larry D. Peters, Topeka and C. Valerie Smith, Topeka

Ex-officio members: Dena Anson, Connie Gibbons, Michael Hager, Rugena Hall, secretary, Cynthia Hornberger, Mike Jauken, Denise Ottinger, Genita Smith Glenda Taylor and Cassandra White.


Please direct any questions about the Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition to Dena Anson, director, university relations.

Spirit Totem

Spirit Totem (bronze)Spirit Totem

Pokey Park, Tucson, Ariz.

"I create totems as a story vehicle. The “Spirit Totem” intertwines a snake, dragon, bear, lion and ram.  Created as a family totem, all of these animals represent totem animals of my immediate family. I was born in the Year of the Snake, which is an ancient symbol representing rebirth and healing.  The snake is winding through the animals, holding everyone together.

"My inspirations are from myths and cultural symbols repeated throughout history connecting disparate people, which I have studied on site during my travels. The South’s rich cultural history mixed with my enthusiastic pursuit of cultural mythology, especially Native American creation myths, has given me endless inspiration for my animal sculptures wrapped in mythical themes."


Constellation Constellation (steel)

V. Skip Willits, Camanche, Iowa

"In the night sky between the Southern Cross and Hydra glows Centaurus. This is my rendering of it; connecting the dots, so to speak.

"The welding technique used to create my artwork is a skill I learned from my father. In 1983 I completed and placed my first large scale public sculpture. I live and make art on the banks of the Mississippi River."

Keep it Together

Keep it Together Keep it Together (steel, wood, paint, brick, hardi-plank)

Ben Pierce, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

"'Keep it Together' surveys my family’s lineage and answers the question of how there came to be four generations of bricklayers in my family and where it all started. It also raised more questions about my family history, which can be found at benpiercesculpture.com."

Pierce was born in southeast Missouri and raised on traditional values, honesty and hard work. He served four years in the military before attending and graduating from college with a bachelor of fine arts degree. His work represents experiences or feelings, using simple geometric forms to capture the interest of the viewer.

At the Edge of the Jungle

At the Edge of the Jungle At the Edge of the Jungle (metal)

Steven W. Huffman, Ottumwa, Iowa

"As a hardscape and landscape contractor of over 40 years, I have established a comfortable understanding -- along with natural abilities -- for strengths, loads, balance and proportions for design and products of various materials. I have chosen to work with recycled scrap metal since it is becoming art before I even touch it. It’s my business to create…! "

"My abstract sculpture,'At the Edge of the Jungle,' stands over 10-feet tall and weighs approximately 1,200 pounds.Whether you are standing in the literal “Jungle” looking toward the City, (as a Jungle) or vice versa, you get the sense of contours of the plants and high rise structures in three-dimension."


Abandon Abandon (steel and wood)

Joe Forrest Sackett, Albuquerque, N.M.

"'Abandon' reflects energy, release, at least partially, from constraint. It’s bot rectilinear and curvilinear. It’s both wood and steel, soft and hard. It’s an attempt to represent at least momentary liberation.

“My work is often abstract and sometimes geometrically based. I work mostly with steel, although I use other media as well. Themes are varied. Wit is important. Art has teeth, and can bite. It should be provocative. However, the work must also beguile, since provocation without beauty or charm is in the end hollow. I value craftsmanship, so I do my own labor."

Window to Nowhere

Window to NowhereWindow to Nowhere (welded steel)

Robert Lamberson, Dannebrog, Neb.

"The sculpture, 'Window to Nowhere,' is a welded steel sculpture that stands about 8 feet tall and 3 feet wide. The sculpture weighs about 160 pounds. This is an abstract piece that allows the viewer to create his own interpretation. The title is derived from the colored glass encased in Plexiglas in the pendant that creates a window that you, a prisoner, cannot see through.

“I live and work with my wife in our studio on the Loup River. My extensive experience with functional design and welding and my continuous contact with art and artists, dating back to the mid-1960s, has given me a solid background in many aspects of the visual arts. This seemed to naturally evolve into working with sculptural forms and the creation of both indoor and outdoor sculpture. My work is normally characterized by the use of contrasting geometric forms and contrasting colors and textures, with an occasional touch of humor or whimsy.”


Exultation Exultation (steel)

Mary Jane Lamberson, Dannebrog, Neb.

"This sculpture implies 'joy' in the simplest of forms. It literally designed itself on the floor of the studio. The parts were lying together. A simple adjustment of the pieces before welding facilitated the final design.

"I have a lifelong connection with sculpture. Like most art students, I enthusiastically embraced media as it was introduced. My master’s thesis was in watercolor but my other love was clay, with its flexibility and seemingly unlimited parameters. Clay’s major drawback was its reaction to the weather. I began to use steel rod, wire, and mesh or any other material that seemed appropriate for a particular work. I like the interaction and immediacy of the materials I use with sculptures. The majority of my works deal with abstracted forms. I use linear curves to communicate a sense of motion as well as emotion in my sculptures."