NKU to celebrate unveiling of student sculpture 'Renewal' Thursday

For immediate release…
Tuesday – Sept. 3, 2013

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - A simple slab of granite. What do you picture when you think of this hard, igneous rock known for its shaped and polished beauty? A new kitchen countertop? A monument in the nation’s capital?

What Northern Kentucky University art student Katrina Campbell saw was the perfect medium for a sculpture of a human face. On Thursday at 11:30 a.m., the NKU community will have a chance to see what she saw. Campbell’s sculpture, “Renewal,” will be unveiled during a brief ceremony on the NKU plaza near the Student Union (the back side of Starbucks, next to Nunn Hall).

The sculpture represents a collaboration over the past year between NKU’s Office of Facilities Management, Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement and Department of Visual Arts. The idea began after Professor Steven Finke approached the Scripps Howard Center about a service learning idea for public art. Service learning classes at NKU typically partner with a community nonprofit. A web design class, for example, might design a web page for a nonprofit or a history class might design an exhibit for a community museum.

Professor Finke wondered whether NKU could be the partner? With that, the idea was born that students in his sculpture class would compete for commission to design a piece of public art for the NKU campus. NKU Director of Facilities Management Larry Blake and his team selected a location and developed specs, then Finke’s class went to work creating models over a five-week period last spring. The models were displayed in the NKU Student Union and reviewed by a panel of judges. Campbell’s “Renewal” was selected. The NKU Scripps Howard Center, which uses grant funding to support service learning classes, underwrote part of the cost of the materials and the university supported the installation.

“NKU is a national leader in service learning, with over 100 classes each academic year,” said Mark Neikirk, executive director of the center. “In such classes, students engage with a community partner for an applied learning experience. We’ve partnered with all varieties of nonprofits, schools and with local government for similar applied learning engagements. This is the first time our partner was us – and it’s been fun to see the collaboration unfold and Katrina’s finished product is a beautiful, thoughtful piece of work.”

Service learning classes also are designed to enhance the learning outcomes of participating classes. “In this case, the class learned what it is like to work with a commission where the client has criteria that an artist must meet, the constraints for working within a budget and how to balance the art with the client’s interests,” Neikirk said.

Campbell said “Renewal” is about just that. “This piece is about the agony that can occur and the relief that will come when one would apply God’s word to their thinking,” she said. Campbell cited Romans 12:2 as her true inspiration in the piece: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

The unveiling ceremony will feature comments by NKU President Geoffrey Mearns. Light refreshments will also be served.

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