“Artsy” addition to Jerome Library

Jerome Library, already home to thousands of books, magazines and newspapers, now has another item in its inventory – hand-chiseled sculptures.

The sculptures are the final projects from a stone carving class. Two days a week last semester, students in the class chipped at blocks of stone for more than two hours at a time. Displayed in the library, on eight different pedestals, are the final results of their work.

One of the sculptures, called ‘Grasp,’ is a hand with open fingers, emerging from a piece of marble and grabbing at the empty air.

Zach Orr, a 2009 graduate of the University and the creator of ‘Grasp,’ said he chose to make a hand because he wanted to challenge himself, and he also wanted to create an intense, realistic pose.

‘I always like doing realism, realistic work,’ Orr said. ‘I’ve never really been into abstract stuff.’

To make his project even more authentic, Orr studied the anatomy of hands. He learned about their structure, bones and the way they work in general to make his project a more accurate depiction of life.

‘You study the anatomy intensively ‘hellip;’ just so you become more familiar with the human body,’ he said.

Each student in the class spent the entire semester working on just one project. Orr said everyone had to come up with his or her own idea right at the beginning. They drew sketches and made clay models, and then, about two weeks into the class, they started on the stone for their final projects.

Orr said his favorite part of the class, and of sculpting in general, was the end, seeing the final result after months of work. He said right up until its completion, it is impossible to tell how a sculpture is going to turn out, and it’s nice at the end to see a finished product.

‘The whole time you’re chipping away at the stone and it looks like nothing,’ he said. ‘It only comes together right at the end.’

Near ‘Grasp’ is junior Michael Romanin’s sculpture, called ‘Looking Back.’ ‘Looking Back’ is a bust of the biblical character Lot’s wife.

In Genesis 19, Lot’s wife, who is never actually named, is turned into a pillar of salt after she looks back toward the town from which she and her husband are fleeing. God was destroying the town, but angels told Lot and his family their lives would be spared if they left the town and never looked back.

Romanin said he sees many parallels between the story of Lot’s wife and today’s world. He said he made his sculpture to send a message to a culture he believes is headed in the wrong direction.

‘I thought it was a very relevant story to today,’ he said. ‘I think our culture is looking longingly at what it calls freedom, but what I think is bad for it. To me it’s just a call to obedience for Christians.’

Romanin said he thought of the idea for his project about a year and a half ago, and the class gave him the perfect opportunity to actually sculpt the picture he created in his mind.

The sculptures were set up in the library at the end of spring semester, and will remain for most of the summer. Acquisitions Coordinator Julie Raybine, who spends 40 hours a week working in the library, said they are a nice addition to the atmosphere in Jerome.

‘I always have to resist touching them,’ she said.