UNCG Artists Turn Up the Heat at Community Showcase

Posted on June 24, 2024

Clay tiles with carvings lay on the ground beside an iron furnace.

Students at UNC Greensboro put on a sizzling show for the community. They browsed the artwork made by students in the School of Art or made their own, courtesy of an iron pour and steamroller press.

The packed event on April 20 began with an art showcase inside UNCG’s Gatewood Studio Arts Center and closed with an iron pour in the sculpture yard. During the day, visitors toured the studio spaces, attended workshops, and watched demonstrations of glass working and ceramics.

UNCG Foundry Director Kevin Vanek supervised the students pouring molten iron into art tiles that had been carved beforehand by guests. The students built the furnaces themselves, which heat metal to almost 3,000 degrees. 

“This is a new furnace that hasn’t been used before,” says Loucks S., who is getting a bachelor of fine arts in painting. “That’s really exciting. They’re going to see some really cool fire work, glassblowing, and other sculpture art.”

It was Vanek’s goal upon joining the School of Art faculty in 2020 to revitalize iron pouring at UNCG, taking students on tours of foundries and attended conferences so they could learn how to do it themselves. It was inspiring to see how many people turned out for their showcase. “This is a big event,” said Vanek. “The community gets to come out and see the whole thing and get drawn into the arts. It gives them an understanding of how the work they’re looking at gets made.”

Sculpture and ceramics major Viktoria Banovic says iron pouring promotes community engagement. “Much of the iron that we’re using today was donated by community members from old cast iron radiators. The more that we involve them, the more we get to create.” 

Loucks was happy to see students work together. “Having an opportunity to do this at our own school with our peers and having younger people lead the event itself is really empowering for artists.”

The students hope this event gave people a greater appreciation for the artistic process. “Opening eyes to the possibilities of art and what we are able to make,” says Banovic. “A lot of work and teamwork goes into this artform. It’s important to us to shine a light on it.”

Story by Janet Imrick, University Communications
Video by David Lee Row, University Communications
Photography by Sean Norona, University Communications

UNCG students and faculty wearing protective gear watch molten iron come out of a furnace.

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