"Aurora III, The Spirit of Prairie Village" Sculpture by Tom Corbin By Jessie Cartwright
Aurora III, The Spirit of Prairie Village Located on the Prairie Village Municipal Center Grounds 7700 Mission Rd., Prairie Village, KS
A work of art translates ideas into images and symbols that can engage our visual curiosity and connection. Though our interpretations and experiences vary, certain works of art have the beauty and power to connect us all. In the garden of the Prairie Village Municipal Building, you will discover a bronze sculpture that encompasses all of the above, created by local sculptor Tom Corbin.
Aurora III, part of Corbin’s signature Aurora series of bronze cast sculptures, portrays an elongated female figure, approximately 6 feet tall, with brown and verdigris patina. She is barefoot and youthfully carefree, seemingly in motion as her arms reach upward, face raised, eyes focused on a dove at the instant of flight from her hand.
Yet, Aurora III transcends a captured moment in time to express timeless universal themes. Corbin explains, “Aurora III is a sculptural metaphor for hope, peace and the human spirit. The young girl embodies a youthful optimism while her pose, releasing a dove, is literally uplifting. In a world that often embellishes the negative, this sculpture will hopefully provide some solace in contemplating the positive side of the human race.” Originally commissioned by the Prairie Village Foundation to honor Barbara Vernon’s remarkable devotion and service of 30 years as City Administrator in 2008, Aurora III represents “The Spirit of Prairie Village.” Aurora III is locally historical and globally contemporary. While we celebrate the life of one individual, we are all a part of Aurora III’s hope for the future.
Tom Corbin knows a little about hope for the future. Since the 1980s, he has built an extensive portfolio of personal, public and corporate collections and installations as an established master of bronze sculptures and furniture. Corbin’s stylized, elongated figures, reminiscent of Giacometti, reveal his extraordinary skill in the colors of patina that alter light and shade on textured surfaces.
Several notable, local commissions include the Kansas City Firefighters Memorial, and sculptures in the Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden and Foundation. Most recently, Corbin was commissioned to create a bronze monument of Harry S. Truman for the Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol. Though he has achieved national and international acclaim, Tom Corbin’s studio, gallery and midwest charm remain local. You can find his compelling work at corbinbronze.com.
The Prairie Village Public Art Series of articles is being developed by the Arts Council to describe and highlight the wonderful public art in Prairie Village. Our Prairie Village Art Walk so far includes the following:
"Prairie Boy" sculpture by Richard Lumpkin 7700 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS
Prairie Evolution by Matthew Dehaemers (article coming soon) 82nd and Mission, Corinth Square Entrance
Your Prairie Village Arts Council is always looking for new ways to promote the art all around us through visual art, performance art and expression. Please watch here for future installments and contact us with your suggestions or recommendations.
"Fluid Form" Sculpture by Jacob Burmood By Nancy Kalikow Maxwell
The Prairie Village Public Art Series of articles is being developed by the Arts Council to describe and highlight the wonderful public art in Prairie Village. To see the first installment, click here. Please watch here for future installments.
A sea animal. A woman dancing. Swirling curlicues.
These are just a few of the descriptions given by shoppers walking past the striking silver sculpture between the Hen House and the Tavern in the Shops of Prairie Village. None of these descriptions mentioned a creek's path in the woods, which sculptor Jacob Burmood says originally inspired his artwork. But that's OK with him. According to Burmood, his works can be described as abstractions “of the fluid nature of the universe.”
While the sculpture, “Fluid Form,” may be difficult to describe, it can accurately be called the "People's Choice" of Prairie Village. It was selected by our residents through a popular vote held in June 2017. Once selected, the 1,000-pound cold cast aluminum sculpture which measures 10’ by 4’ x 5’ was installed in its current location and dedicated on Friday Dec. 15, 2017. The work was generously funded by the shopping center owner, First Washington Realty.
Sculptor Jacob Burmood has been sculpting professionally since 1999. A native of Springfield, MO, he is currently an art teacher at Johnson County Community College and has previously taught in the Sculpture Department at Missouri State University, Springfield, MO. Burmood earned a Master’s in Fine Arts from the University of Kansas and Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from Missouri State University. Leopold Gallery owner Paul Dorrell, calls Burmood “a brilliant sculptor” and “one of the finest artists I’ve ever worked with.” Burmood has won commissions across the country, with pieces installed from California to Texas to Tennessee. Locally his work can be seen at KU Medical’s Indian Creek Campus in Overland Park and downtown Olathe. One of Burmood’s recent works at Arrowhead Stadium is an abstract interpretation of the human body inspired by the shape of a football. He’s currently working on a massive piece for the City of Lawrence. It remains to be seen if it, too, will evoke feelings of a dancer or sea creature from passersby.
Lori Phillips Ed.D. Juror Kansas State of the Art 2020
It was an honor to serve as juror for this very fine show. I was asked to select 75 pieces from more than 450 entries for the show. Deciding was not easy but the show had a breadth of styles, themes and media I found very appealing. Here are my thoughts and comments on the winning entries:
BEST IN SHOW: The Secret Garden This piece speaks to us in so many ways. How can we miss the play of light in this exquisite color pencil drawing? It is second only to the way the artist makes the composition flow from the delicate detail of the gate to the solid vertical form of the subject and then the thicker line of the door. Notice the color repetition of the oxidized metal gate to the pre-teen’s eyes. What has someone just said to her? What is she feeling? Is she leaving or coming through the gate? She’s no angel… or is she? Notice the gold wings set behind her. Will they help her fly away? The artist uses great skill to convey so much expression and composition with beauty and elegance.
This work is reminiscent of past masters. To see another beautiful gate and girl see: The Railway a 1873 painting by Édouard Manet (1832-1883) that hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.
Merit Award: Reflections I Let’s look for all the reflections we can find in this painting. That is, after you get through admiring the subjects young, firm, muscular body. The artist skillfully uses the white light of the lamp to highlight our subject as well as the pull chains, envelope, and tissues in the foreground. But look a little closer. Notice the white thin horizontal lines on the top and bottom of the painting. What are those? Can it be that the artist is showing us a reflection of the man himself? Can it be this is not him, but a reflection of him in a framed mirror? If so where are we, the viewer, in the image?
The technique of this painting also draws upon the work of Édouard Manet: See another reflection in Manet’s The Folies-Bergère. The painting was Manet’s last major work. It represents the bustling interior of one of the most prominent music halls in Paris. The figures in the painting are entirely reflected in the mirror.
Merit Award: Four Black Hats This still-life is a wonderful example of simple shapes and tones combined to form a perfect composition. Notice the use of four basic elements in the image. Four, (an even number) is a difficult number to make work in a composition. The artist arranges the space using single neutral tones, beautifully drawing upon techniques of 19th century masters and becomes a “visual bandit,” sharing her world and favorite beautiful objects.
This piece draws upon techniques of Giorgio Morandi (July 20, 1890 – June 18, 1964), an Italian painter who specialized in still-life. His paintings are noted for their tonal subtlety in depicting apparently simple subjects. It also brings to mind work of Wayne Thiebaud (November 15, 1920—present), an American painter known for his works depicting commonplace objects.
Honorable Mention: Nightlight This color pencil drawing of a child at work may make you think of someone in your own home settling in with schoolwork in these socially distanced days. The artist skillfully draws the viewer’s gaze to her subject’s eyes, and then takes us on a trip through the composition using light, color and shapes. When you first glance at the drawing your eyes go to the child’s face because of the light large space caused by the computer’s brightness. Next our gaze is drawn to the colorful design on the girl’s shirt and then to the same colorful design repeated on computer screen. Then we notice the four round shapes of the stuffed toy’s feet in the front right. The animal’s eyes repeat these round shapes bringing you back to where you started …. the child’s eyes. What a fun trip!
Honorable Mention: Ascending to New Heights This acrylic painting offers a different view of a typical landscape. Using basically only two colors this landscape creates clouds that form mountains, snow caped peaks, and waves. There is a hint of yellow sneaking in on the left side, offering warmth and suggesting the location of the sun. We may have seen a view like this from a plane window. This painting offers the viewer the same beautiful view without the price of a ticket!
Honorable Mention: Let’s Be Blunt Packaging, ribbon, paper and wire are used to create this exciting neckpiece. The wearer will really need to know who they are to wear this multi-material piece. The black and gold is simpler on top and then slowly turns to beautifully toned rainbow cubes towards the bottom. WOW WOW WOW .
Honorable Mention: Confined Gloaming This color pencil drawing commingles nature with technology. The artist suggests a disconnect occurring in our world between the two. Thin vertical lines vary in thickness and create a barrier to what may be a sunset of sunrise. This is a piece I would like to study, to see how the lines are created and why they appear to shine. This contrast between the structural line in the foreground and soft organic forms in the background creates a magical landscape
Honorable Mention: Celeste This acrylic, resin and gold leaf painting reminds me of home (Honolulu). The beautiful “Haku” (Natural wrapped head piece) is worn at times of celebration in many cultures. The background is split in half vertically with an ethnic geometric print on the left and simple neutral texture on the right. The use of blue on the subject’s brown skin lights up the entire face. The artist surrounds the orange berries with blue, making the spheres jump off the page as the two complimentary colors (orange and blue) fight and accentuate each other. Stars glitter from the young girl’s ears and her eyes shine like a bride’s—the most beautiful young woman of the moment.
Juror’s Statement: In my role as artist-juror, I initially choose pieces that I have a strong aesthetic response to at first glance. This helped me to narrow the collection of 450 entries to the 75 pieces you will see in the show. I was then tasked to choose eight award-winning pieces, one best of show, two merit awards and five honorable mentions. In the first process there were many pieces that were very good, demonstrating merit and skill that did not make the cut. Deciding was not easy. Demonstration of technical skill was abundant, but that is not the only thing that counts. In my view, we learn to draw and paint to see line, shape, and color. Sculpture, fiber arts, and ceramics teach us to engage with and understand the language of form, texture, and space. It usually helps to build a strong visual framework, but most importantly the artist uses all the creative forms as channels through which she gives sensory expression to idea or experience; to make the intangible tangible. What am I looking for when jurying an art show? What makes artistic merit? I look for some combination of the following:
Developed sensitivity in material handling - not necessarily the same thing as technical ability;
Avoidance of clichés;
Artworks that take a critical stance in relation to the culture at large; and
Developing artistic and creative maturity.
All of the award winners possess most, if not all of these qualities. It is also worth mentioning that my approach is not to simply to find and select works that I “like”, or that meet my taste. There were pieces I eliminated that I liked, and pieces that were included that do not suit my taste or preferences in art. The thing I felt all entries possessed was artistic merit. I want to congratulate everyone who to submitted works. It was my honor to jury the show and select the award winners. Good luck to you all.