CoJMC professor finds hobby in sculpting

CoJMC professor finds hobby in sculpting

Monday, February 26, 2018 - 11:15am
An original sculpture by professor Katie Krcmarik.
An original sculpture by professor Katie Krcmarik.
Katie Krcmarik, professor of practice
Katie Krcmarik, professor of practice

by Jamdan Clang, graduate student

With a blow torch in one hand and a piece of metal pipe in the other, CoJMC professor Katie Krcmarik looks like she just stepped out of your favorite horror movie. What she’s doing, however, is anything but scary.

She originally gained an appreciation for sculpting when she took a sculpture class as an undergraduate, but didn’t pick it up as a hobby until well into her career as a professor.

“I took another sculpture class about two years ago as a continuing education type of thing, which really got me interested in creating sculpture,” Krcmarik said. “I had always liked sculpture as an art form from my art history survey courses. I loved sculptors like Henry Moore, who makes these wonderful organic interpretations of the human form.”

Since then, Krcmarik has created pieces with a variety of materials and techniques. Currently she creates most of her art at University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Innovation Studio on Innovation Campus and Southeast Community College’s welding studio.

“I have a wood piece that is pretty popular,” Krcmarik said. “I took sheets of plywood that I cut to the approximate size of the finished piece and then laminated, basically glued and clamped them together, into a block for carving.”

She used a small chainsaw to carve out the twisting cylindrical piece from the block of plywood. The piece now sits in her office at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, where Krcmarik coordinates the visual communications program.

A beauty that one wouldn’t normally expect from something made out of plywood is revealed in the sculpture.

“I love how the plywood looks when carved and the grain is revealed,” Krcmarik said.

Of course creating art with such heavy equipment does come with some risks. “Safety is extremely important and the first thing taught at any studio or in any class,” Krcmarik said.

University of Nebraska–Lincoln has a list of 13 sculpture safety rules which includes proper clothing and safety equipment for sculpting with various mediums.

“With welding, you need to be careful not to burn your eyes by not using the proper shield or by burning yourself by not wearing the proper gear,” Krcmarik said. “You can get a sunburn type burn on your skin if it is not properly covered from exposure to the light when welding.”

With any type of sculpting, one should be introduced to the art form before they jump into creation.

“You can do damage to yourself and the equipment if you do not learn the basics before beginning. I also think you need to be prepared for things to go wrong and not work correctly at first,” Krcmarik said.

University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s safety rules echo Krcmarik’s statements. But the risk should not deter someone from the rewards of sculpting. One such reward is the community of artists in Lincoln.

“The thing I like best about Innovation Studio is that if you see someone working in something you know nothing about, they will explain their process to you and even help you with your own project,” Krcmarik said.

Jerry Reif, the shop manager for the Nebraska Innovation Studio, echoes Krcmarik’s sentiment.

“Other than the making part, I think the community that it creates is just amazing. Everybody shares, everybody talks,” Reif said. “People from all different aspects of life, whether you’re an undergrad student or a retired iron worker, those people are hanging out together and learning from each other.”

Krcmarik is an active part of that community.

“Whenever she’s here, she’s always helpful to others,” Reif said. “We’re all about that collaborative side of things, and she’s really good at doing that.”

In addition to lending her expertise when she’s working on her own projects, Krcmarik also teaches workshops for studio members. These workshops are similar to the ones she teaches at CoJMC. Innovation Campus is designed to be welcoming to novice makers.

“Just come in with your eyes and ears wide open and don’t be afraid to ask questions,” Reif said.

Another place on campus to get involved in the art community is the Sheldon Museum of Art. The Sheldon is free to the public and is located on University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s City Campus.

“There are usually opportunities to see sculpture in person just by coming to the museum,” said Assistant Curator of Exhibitions Ashley Hussman.

The Sheldon often has larger sculptures in the Great Hall and smaller pieces scattered throughout the exhibits. There are also 30 permanent outdoor sculptures on University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s City Campus and an additional eight throughout East Campus.

Charity Green, the Sheldon’s visitor services manager, said Sheldon has more than 400 sculptures in its collection.

However, not all the pieces are on display. The Sheldon rotates exhibits throughout the year, providing a new experience for returning visitors.

“Because the Sheldon’s permanent collection is close to 12,000 objects, our primary goal is to showcase our permanent collection and use our resources to bring in exhibitions that would benefit the academic community and local community,” Hussman said.

The Sheldon’s entire collection is searchable through its online database. There one can sort the collection by sculpture, artist or time period.

There are ample opportunities around University of Nebraska–Lincoln for aspiring sculptors to get inspired and start creating art.

“Lincoln is lucky that it has a number of other venues on campus and in town that allow students and faculty to show work,” Hussman said.

Hussman cited the Eisentrager-Howard Gallery in Richards Hall as a place where student and faculty work is often displayed. Works from the 31st Annual Undergraduate Studio Art Competition will be displayed at the Eisentrager-Howard Gallery beginning Feb. 5.

Krcmarik gave this advice to those considering sculpture as a hobby: “Sculpture is as much intuition as it is technical skill. I was told when I started that the material will tell you what it wants to be and there is a great deal of truth in that. You have control but sometimes it seems like the material has a mind of its own. I would also say start with the cheapest materials possible while learning because you will make mistakes. If you can’t take a class for sculpture, find people in the community that can guide you.”