Outdoor Sculpture, “Hope,” Installed on Catawba College Campus
April 5, 2019
On a rainy April 5th, “Hope,” a sculpture by Jim Weitzel, arrived on the Catawba College campus marking the college’s fifth year of participation in the Salisbury Sculpture Show. It was a day fit for fins, not wings, even though wings are portrayed by the Weitzel sculpture that Catawba will host through the rest of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020.
The sculpture show is celebrating its 11th year of “bringing public art to Salisbury,” as Catawba and the other higher education institutions in Salisbury continue their participation by hosting pieces of sculpture included in the show on their campuses. Catawba's participation is a very affordable way to bring public art to the campus.
The sculptors submit proposals each fall, and then a sculpture selection committee (which a representative from the college sits on) actually picks from all of the submissions to narrow the selections to 16 final sculptures that will be displayed as part of the annual show this year.
Weitzel described the concept for his sculpture “Hope” like this: “The inspiration for my wings comes from viewing a marble sculpture, "Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss," the execution of this piece is stunning especially the wings! Wings recall many different things to everyone, but for me they have this angelic quality, this idea of flight, and our desires to lift ourselves above the sphere of earth. Who doesn’t remember dreams of flying and that sense of ultimate freedom? These are the things that I am trying to express with my wing.”
A small plate affixed at the base of “Hope” is engraved with the first two lines from the Emily Dickinson poem, ““Hope” is the thing with feathers.” The complete verse reads:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
Weitzel grew up outside Cleveland, Ohio, but for the last 30 years has lived in North Carolina. Growing up, he was fortunate to spend many hours at the Cleveland Museum of Art and to live just minutes away from the Dali collection that now lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. These collections have had a lasting effect on the work that he produces. He attended the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus Ohio, graduating in 1979.
He has been creating art from an early age, and says he has two great passions in his life, art and working with individuals recovering from mental and emotional difficulties. “These two different things are interconnected, each giving strength to the other, he notes. “It is my ambition to create large scale public work and at the same time shine a light on the plight of those who deal with lives disrupted by these conditions.”
He creates furniture and says, “My furniture is about the honest use of materials, allowing their true nature to shine while producing the finest craft possible. I search for the discarded pieces of wood and steel and reshape them into useful art objects.”
He paints and describes his paintings as “a quest to take the mundane images of pop culture and elevate them to a surreal level.”
His sculpture, he shares, “is about both addition and subtraction, but always with the theme of surface,” and “make[s] heavy references to the human form and implied movement. All my work has an influence of the surrealist art movement.”
See more of Weitzel’s work at his website www.weitzelart.net.