Sculpture program students and faculty spent hours hand breaking bathtubs into the small, potato-chip-sized pieces of iron they poured into a homemade Cupola furnace constructed by Art Labs Coordinator Joel Kiser on April 20.
Successfully making Collin College the only college in Texas with the ability to cast iron, the group safely poured iron for the first time in the history of the art department, resulting in more than 800 lbs of cast iron.
Visiting artist John Robert “Jack” Craft also shared his own art-making process and life experiences as a rancher at the event.
“The presence of Craft at this first ever Collin College Iron Pour, helped to energize the sculpture students’ art-making processes and infuse in them a newfound teamwork, confidence, and camaraderie,” Kiser said. “Not only did the iron furnace successfully run, it ran faster and smoother than expected.”
Luke Sides, professor of sculpture, said the Iron Pour has opened the doors for beneficial relationships with other academic institutions and laid the foundations for future iron casting workshops that will serve to benefit sculpture students and the art department as a whole.
Until now, academic iron casting in Texas has relied heavily on other commercial foundries and other industrial based groups to facilitate pours for students and sculpture departments.
“This limitation of materials, adequate facilities and sculpture students has created a void in many college art programs across the state,” Kiser said. “It quickly becomes understandable what a great feat it is to produce and cast iron here at Collin College.”
Setting Collin College apart, the new cast iron system is bringing artists of all walks and ages together.
“With the concerted effort of our students, support staff and visiting artist, we made this iron pour a great success,” Sides said. “It was an amazing event that brought together people from the community, potential students, current students and alumni. Art-making is usually a solo endeavor, and the iron pour forced the students to work together towards a common goal. I can’t wait until we do this again. ”
Sides and Kiser said they hope the new addition to the sculpture program will establish a national stage for Collin College.