New IAC art exhibit showcases pieces created from the “sticks and stones” found in nature

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(PHOTO/ Chris Wallace)

Larry Strickland (above) has created his “Sticks and Stones” exhibit from nature, using driftwood, bone, copper, and other materials that he makes “representative of life’s cycle.”

Andrea Hammack

Staff Writer

The International Arts Center (IAC) is hosting a new exhibition, “Sticks and Stones,” featuring artist and Troy University alumnus Larry Strickland. 

Strickland serves as a special artist for the university and is the creator behind the 9-foot-tall Trojan warrior sculpture on the main academic quad. 

Carrie Jaxon, curator for the IAC, said she is excited to showcase a different side of Strickland’s work than what is seen on Troy’s campus. 

“Larry works in found materials from nature, primarily driftwood, bone, copper, shell, deer horn and precious metals as symbolic accents,” Jaxon said. “Although the work he is showing is quite different than what he is known for on our campus, it is a way to discover a different side of this important artist.”

In a summary being used in flyers for the event, Strickland explained his artistic process: 

“The nature of my work is a direct result of nature itself. The wood I find along creeks, streams, and in wooded areas has fallen, weathering over time by the elements. 

“This natural process of decay is the process I work with. As each piece is excavated and cleaned, only the hardest and most durable wood remains. The movement and beauty of this driftwood becomes the soul of the sculpted piece, as its original form is always left recognizable even after my interpretation is hewn.”

As Strickland waits for the wood to cure, he writes that he ponders what the new piece will be. 

“I study its form, sometimes for years before I see – or the piece allows me to see – what it is to become. Often, the subject is figurative, reflecting some aspect of man’s predicament of belief. 

“I use symbolism through the addition of other materials such as bone and ivory to represent death, or gold and silver to represent materialism. Always, the wood is representative of life’s cycle: life-to-death-to-life as it is reborn through the artist’s eyes.”

Strickland tends to use wood that is native to the Southeast, from Florida to South Carolina.

Gabby Powell, a junior social work major from Bayou la Batre, said the way Strickland makes the wood “representative of life’s cycle” makes his art unique.

“I know there’s a lot of people who make art out of wood and natural resources, but his just really caught my eye,” Powell said. 

For the exhibition, Strickland has created several new pieces that will be seen for the first time.

“Larry has a unique ability to turn what most would see as an ordinary, discarded material from nature into a beautiful sculpture,” Jaxon said. “We’re excited to have this work on display for all to discover for the first time.”

Jaxon was also able to visit Strickland’s workspace and see for herself where his artwork is created. 

“Visiting Larry on site where he makes his sculptures was really eye-opening,” Jaxon said. “Seeing the work in progress is always a treat.

“My favorite piece is probably ‘Blue Tears’ which is an opal that has a beautiful, almost unnoticeable face carved into it.”

Jaxon hopes that those who come to see Strickland’s work are inspired by the natural aspects.

“I’m hoping that our visitors can connect to Larry’s work through his use of natural materials that they might find while going on a walk through the woods,” Jaxon said. “His work inspires us to find unexpected forms in our surrounding environment.”

Also accompanying Strickland’s artwork is a series of poetry, which will be intertwined with the individual sculptures. 

The opening and reception of “Sticks and Stones” is Thursday, Nov. 7, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and refreshments will be served. The exhibition will remain in the IAC until Feb. 5, 2020. 

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