Winners announced for ‘Out of the Box: An Outdoor Juried Sculpture Exhibition’ at Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art

Robbie Barber, (Waco, Texas, born 1964), Dreams of Flying, 2011, welded steel, paint, found objectsAUBURN UNIVERSITY – The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art on Oct. 4 announced sculptors from Texas and North Carolina as winners of “Out of the Box: An Outdoor Juried Sculpture Exhibition.” More than 120 works of art were entered in the national large-scale sculpture competition and the winners were named at a grand opening celebration of the exhibition.

The works of the 10 finalists will be on display around the Lethander Art Path and lake on the museum grounds until October of 2014. Each finalist will receive $1,000. First place, second place and honorable mention carry additional cash awards of $3,000, $1,500 and $500, respectively.

The competition was judged by artists Carol Mickett and Robert Stackhouse. Texas sculptor Kurt Dyrhaug won first place for his sculpture, “Large Tractor Wing.” Sculptor Bill Brown of North Carolina won second place for “The Mediator.” Robbie Barber, also a sculptor from Texas, received honorable mention for “Dreams of Flying.”

First place winner Dyrhaug said, “Originally, I am from Minnesota, and the work I was producing then referenced farm implements and things you’d find in the field.” Being a city boy, I had no idea what those things were for and how they were used but they did have some wonderful forms.”

Following a move to Texas to teach at Lamar University, Dyrhaug brought that visual perspective with him but to a new place with a different aesthetic. Mickett said that the piece takes something familiar and pushes the boundaries. You recognize it as tractor, but it’s not the sort of tractor you would see on a farm. It’s elongated, but it’s that John Deere color green, she said. It has a seat but its positioned way out so it has the whimsical aspect to it.

For second place, “The Mediator,” Bill Brown said he looked at the strong architectural form of the arch and thought of how he might create a form that could bring people together from different viewpoints.

I was thinking about the lack of communication between people right now, whether it be religious or political. I see these arches as bridges,” he said. “If we could bridge our thoughts and we could each cross a little bit of the arch – it doesn’t have to be in the center; the arch will hold you up where you are. People coming from opposite directions could work something out. The wagon wheels show the arch could be moved physically or psychologically.”

Mickett and Stackhouse said they saw things in Brown’s actual piece not seen in the photograph. They described the finish as very lovingly done, the form as classic and the sculpture having characteristics of farm implements and also of something wrought by a blacksmith.

Honorable mention winner Robbie Barber brought “Dreams of Flying” from Texas and had conversations with travelers along with way. “They would tell me ‘I used to remember going to visit my aunt in this old house that looked just like that, and I remember great times there.’ It’s a great kind of triggering point working with this subject.” ‘

“Dreams of Flying” is made of welded steel and found objects. “The thrusters that are on the back of the house are from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. I had this real simple idea of people sitting on the porch and dreaming ‘what if.’ What if we went to the moon?”

That storytelling feel was not lost on the jurors. “You can’t look at it without having a story. Where’s it going to go and whose house is it? There’s something uplifting about the piece, as it is one of the first sculptures you encounter from the College Street entrance,” said Mickett. “There’s something very nice about art and a museum flying off to the heights.” Stackhouse said there is folksiness to it but a side of sophistication to it. “The house has a gesture of movement because the base is not a straight line; you have a tangential moment which gives the sculpture a real presence to the eye.”

Barber encouraged viewers to have fun with his work. “The outdoor work is an opportunity to do larger work so it’s different, not only for the artist but for the viewer. Most viewers when they go into a gallery or museum it’s a very quiet atmosphere. You can’t touch anything and you don’t want to talk very loud. And it’s a different kind of experience outdoors in the sense that you can participate with it walking around it and sometimes, underneath the piece.”

“Out of the Box: A Juried Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition” is sponsored by Julian Roberts Haynes in memory of Dr. Lucile McGehee Haynes and Grace K. and David E. Johnson. The Susan Phillips Educational Gift Fund provided additional funding. The exhibition was organized by Andy Tennant, the museum’s assistant director, and Jessica Hughes, curatorial assistant. Admission is free courtesy of JCSM Business Partners. For more information, go to or call (334) 844-1484.

(Contributed by Charlotte Hendrix.)

NOTE: For images of the winning artists and their sculptures, go to

Contact: Charlotte Hendrix, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, (334) 844-7075 (, or Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (