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Scrap Can Be Beautiful When Booker T Students Sculpt and Solder

by Gail Sachson 2 Feb 2015 2:21 PM

Scrap can indeed be beautiful — if it is in the hands of Booker T Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts sculpture students.

Gail Sachson reclines on "Spine," by Celeste Rodela. The piece took second place in Floor Category. Photo: Terri Stone.

Guest Blogger Gail Sachson owns Ask Me About Art, offering lectures, tours and program planning. She is a Judge for the annual  Commercial Metals “Scrap Can Be Beautiful” Contest.

Scrap can indeed be beautiful — if it is in the hands of Booker T Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts sculpture students. For thirty-seven years, 10th-12th grade  Booker T  3-D students have been blessed with the opportunity to weld, solder and salvage the left over iron, steel and wire from the debris of one of Commercial Metals recycling yards. Then the young magicians turn what others might see as discards or dollars into dragons, flowers, fish, tables and chairs. The scrap is generously donated by Commercial Metals, a global company with Corporate headquarters in Las Colinas. The only charge to the students is to create.

The young artists, supervised by Paige Furr, Booker T Sculpture and 3-D Visual Arts Coordinator, are encouraged to enter their work in the annual  competition, which coincides with the January shareholders’ meeting. First, Second and Third place winning students in Table Top and Floor categories are introduced to the shareholders , given monetary awards, rousing applause and a celebratory lunch.

The financial reward for making art reinforces the school’s premise that creativity and technical expertise are indeed promising career skills. The students also have practice in pricing their work, for Commercial Metals employees are given the opportunity to purchase the sculpture, which they do. I must confess. As a judge, I see the work even before the employees, and thus have snatched up several wonderful pieces. A side table sits on my patio. A wall mounted wire sheep protrudes from a wall, and a miniature but menacing nuts and bolts machine gunner safeguards a bookshelf.

The judges were sculptors George Tobolowsky and Terri Stone, art consultant Patricia Meadows, Dallas Museum of Art educator Maria Teresa Garcia-Pedroche and I.  We looked for:

Originality; Creativity; Technical expertise/Good and intentional welding; Interesting textures; Presentation/ Appropriate pedestals; Sturdiness

This year, 18 students submitted 35 works. In the Floor category,  Dyllan Brown’s “Dragon” won First Prize. “Spine” by Celeste Rodela won Second, and “Crocodile” by Geovanni Casillas won Third.

First place in the Table Top category was awarded to Joy Schmitz for her “Skeleton Fish”. Second place went  to “Biker Man” by Jose Ramirez , and Third Place to Jackson Daughety for  his“Guitar”.

The six prize-winning works will be displayed in the Commercial Metals Corporate Lobby for the year . They will welcome visitors and emphasize that “Scrap Can Be Beautiful”, as well as be  good for business and good for the community.