Searching for some sculptures
Graduate student’s internship involves locating outdoor sculptures, including ones in Jefferson and Harrison counties
SALEM — An area student is on a search for outdoor sculptures and hopes residents of Jefferson and Harrison counties might be interested to help with that pursuit.
Aaron Moore, a graduate student in the Library and Information Sciences program at Kent State University, is performing an internship through Cleveland State University in partnership with the Ohio Outdoor Sculpture database.
It’s part of a project called the East/Central Ohio Sculpture Inventory Project, and Moore’s focus is to locate outdoor sculptures that aren’t already part of the OOS website.
“Several interns are part of this important project with each intern assigned counties,” Moore explained. “I’m a resident of Salem, and my counties — region 2 — include Carroll, Columbiana, Harrison, Jefferson and Stark.”
Moore offered insight on how the program came to be and what exactly qualifies as an outdoor sculpture.
“The Ohio Outdoor Sculpture Program was developed from the Federal ‘Save Outdoor Sculpture’ — SOS! — project of the early 1990s, an attempt to document how many outdoor sculptures there were and what condition they were in, to preserve them,” Moore noted. “The project is part of Cleveland’s Sculpture Center organization. The OOS runs on a database program called Omeka,” added Moore, who is in his final semester of the LIS program at KSU.
According to the guidelines of the national SOS! survey, outdoor sculpture is defined as follows:
A three-dimensional artwork that is cast, carved, modeled, fabricated, fired or assembled in materials such as stone, wood, metal, ceramic or plastic, located in an outdoor setting and is accessible to the public.
“Because the general public, while viewing outdoor sculpture, may encounter cultural heritage objects that they may consider sculpture, statues or landmarks, there are items of cultural heritage relevancy included here for their information,” he noted. “There have also been sculptures removed from display, but are here listed to clear up questions.”
Some types of outdoor sculpture are omitted from the survey, according to Moore.
“In most cases, the following categories are excluded,” he noted:
¯ Grave markers/headstones: Carved headstones, sculptural markers, memorial tombs, urns, generic mourning figures, etc. The exceptions in this category are original or unique sculptural works associated with grave sites and those particularly significant to a community;
¯ Commemorative works: Plaques, historical markers or tablets, obelisks and shafts that do not have or are not associated with three-dimensional sculpture;
¯ Architectural structures: Structures such as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis that do not have sculptural components;
¯ Architectural ornamentation: Minor decorative embellishments, such as rosettes, keystones, garlands, wreaths, coats of arms and other ornamental relief works; and
¯ Mass-produced items: Commercial products, garden ornaments, weather vanes, whirligigs, shop signs, figureheads and circus carvings.
How many people are involved in the inventory project varies, according to Moore.
“There are approximately five interns now and two this summer as well as the project coordinator,” he said, noting they are assigned specific target areas.
The overall undertaking started around 2000 and is ongoing.
Asked if he knew what potential number of sculptures there might be in his five-county assigned area that includes Jefferson and Harrison counties, Moore responded, “OOS has more than 1,700 sculptures, and it’s really difficult to say how many come from my region.”
So far, Moore has more than 25. “Many are abstract contemporary sculptures, and some have history or military significance,” Moore said. “I try to locate people and/or organizations for leads, and then I travel to the target locations and take photos.”
Moore manages that in a time realm that includes contract computer work for a refuse company and scouting for full-time library work. “When I have free time, I enjoy performing music, gardening and reading classic literature and short fiction,” he noted.
Moore explained what happens to the information and why it’s important to him.
“The sculptures are uploaded into the OOS database for viewing,” he said. “This serves as a viewable online record for anyone. I value this work because it’s in line with my deep interest in anything with cultural and/or historical significance.”
Anyone is welcome to contribute by going to the OOS website and clicking on the submit tab at the footer of the page, he pointed out.
Moore explained what his progress in Jefferson and Harrison counties has amounted to so far.
“Harrison County has really been a challenge since it’s very rural,” he said. “To my luck, I got in contact with Dan Kidd in Scio who creates wonderful chainsaw sculptures. I also visited Steubenville and took some fantastic photos of sculptures and murals around the city and surrounding area,” he noted.
“I also visited Historic Fort Steuben and a volunteer provided me with some good insights and a map for many murals around Steubenville. For example, I found the Moses Fleetwood Walker, Tuskegee Airmen, Ohio River Oil Co. and the impressive Steel Mill Memories murals downtown. I also traveled to the Franciscan University of Steubenville and found some very interesting religious sculptures,” he said.
Deciding what his most interesting find has been so far constituted what Moore described as a “tough question.”
“I really love the Metal Flower Sculptures by artist Aaron J. Potts that I found in Stark and Carroll counties. (Search online for Built by Pottsy LLC 4291 Waynesburg Rd NW Carrollton, Ohio 44615.) Also, I found that downtown Canton has some really cool sculptures like the Steel and Tire Rhino. (See: http://oos.sculpturecenter.org/admin/items/show/1786).
“The sculptures that really grab my attention are mostly nontraditional ones with cultural value rather than historical significance,” he said.