Thad Duhigg (in red) flanked by visitors to SIUE from the Laumeier Sculpture Park
Thad Duhigg is a sculptor, artist, and a friend of the Laumeier Sculpture Park. He is a friend in a different way than the euphemism that implies a person who is a magnanimous patron who writes checks in support of the arts. This friend is a guy who has helped repair sculpture, produced castings that are part the maquettes for visually impaired visitors and even delivered two bronze busts for last Summer’s exhibition The River Between Us. It wasn’t long ago that he was a featured artist at Laumeier Scuplture Park himself.
Thad is professor of sculpture at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville (SIUE) and on this early Spring day he is host to a dozen docents from Laumeier. This peak inside the SIUE sculpture department shows students eager to make art, but perhaps more importantly, learn the craft of creating sculpture. The docents are listening carefully as Thad reinforces the steps necessary for the lost wax method of casting in bronze. “There are a lot of opportunities to experience failure and when every piece is unique there are different challenges,” says Duhigg.
The nature of this lesson is far reaching. It isn’t only about manufacturing in a laboratory. It is about the commitment and attention to detail from temperatures, the “investment” and allowances you make for metal to form and air to escape. The specification covers a group of requirements that are mandatory for castings produced by the investment casting process to meet the metallurgical requirements: chemical, heat, and product analyses performed wherein the material shall meets the specified composition limits for carbon, manganese, silicon, phosphorus, sulfur, nickel, chromium, molybdenum, vanadium, tungsten, copper, and aluminum. It isn’t just art for art’s sake.
Meanwhile “let sleeping dogs lie,” is a theme that seems to creeps into the tour of sculpture and the adjacent departments at SIUE. Thad Duhigg is not satisfied to leave things as status quo. Even though recently he has “sleeping dogs” appearing in sculpture he not about to go without stirring things up. Status Quo is not his style. So when you see a pit bull on a pedestal on the campus of SIUE it is not because the artist is asleep.
Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville (SIUE )is a nationally recognized university educating and developing professional and community leaders through excellent faculty and programs. For more information www.siue.edu