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Amanda J. Billings
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Sculptures bring creativity to Ivy Tech's campus

Sarah Brubeck |IDS | 1/22/2008

Local artist Mark Wallis started sculpting during his senior year in high school with a simple art class. Now, his work resides on campuses and businesses all across the country, including Ivy Tech’s Bloomington campus.

Nineteen of Wallis’s sculptures – most of which will remain on campus until Jan. 25 – are currently on display at Ivy Tech Bloomington, placed in locations the artist chose himself. The sculptures, which are made of steel and limestone, fit in well with the green spaces on campus, Wallis said.

“My pieces work really well with the landscape,” Wallis said. “They bring a sense of joy, delight and amusement. They aren’t confrontational, they cause the viewer to look at it and view them.”

When entering Ivy Tech’s campus, the largest of the 19 sculptures, made out of quarter-inch steel, stands on the right. It is titled “Standing Concert” and took Wallis a few months to construct, he said.

The sculptures are scattered around the main building and parking lot, sitting on limestone bases in grassy areas.

“They look really good in garden spaces,” Wallis said. “They are very harmonic. That campus is really right to have sculptures. The contemporary buildings just seemed right for my work.”

Three sculptures, titled “Family,” are grouped together on campus. The sculptures were created individually, but when they were finished Wallis felt they complemented each other.

“I just thought they looked good together,” Wallis said. “I could see a male, female, offspring idea.”

Each piece is made of brand-new steel and can take weeks, months or even years to create. After fabrication, the pieces are covered in an acid and left to rust for several weeks or longer. The piece is eventually scuffed to rid it of loose particles and to get a clean surface. At the end of the process, the piece is covered in a rich bronze finish.

“I’ve had a piece sit in my studio for a year and one day I decide where I want to go with it,” Wallis said. “Each piece is a journey. In that journey there are pauses, time to play and experiment. There’s a lot of mental time. I have to decide how I want to compose it.”

Wallis also has sculptures displayed at Oliver Winery, the Harley-Davidson store of Bloomington and the CVS in Bloomington. In each location, the works are made of different-sized pieces of limestone.

With more than 90 percent of Ivy Tech graduates working and living in the Bloomington area, it’s important to pay attention to art and landscape, said Amanda Billings, director of marketing and communications at Ivy Tech Bloomington.

“It is vital that those who will live and work in south central Indiana have knowledge and awareness of the world around them,” she said.

The sculptures were installed at the Ivy Tech campus on Jan. 5 and 6. “Standing in Concert” will be staying through March, but the rest will be taken down on Jan. 25. After that, Wallis plans to pack up his artwork and drive to Florida, where the sculptures will be displayed at a show.

“This was really kind of a rushed deal,” Wallis said. “I wish I could have had them out longer, but I’m glad I did it.”