Sculpture Designed to Encourage, Inspire...Just Like the University

July 17, 2012

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Sculpture Designed to Encourage, Inspire...Just Like the University


VALDOSTA -- Standing on the ground level of the Jerry and Kay Jennett Lecture Hall foyer, Dr. Ronald M. Zaccari looks up at the stainless steel and aluminum piece of art hanging on the wall to the right of the entryway. He smiles a smile that reaches all of the way to his eyes. Then he begins sharing secrets about the half-ton sculpture that the Jennetts hired him to create. His enthusiasm is infectious, making everyone near him feel like anything is possible.

The sculpture, “Woman with a Multi-colored Hat,” measures 13 feet by 8 feet and is the largest undertaking of Zaccari’s career. It features high-quality automotive paint -- a first for the artist -- and highlights a female profile composed of three levels of mirror-finish stainless steel; the highly polished surfaces provide a dramatic contrast to the colorful components of shapes and forms, he said.

It is both reminiscent of Pablo Picasso and whimsical, almost Seussical, in nature, an ideal piece for inspiring the future educators studying in the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education next door.

“People know I’m a big fan of Cubism, an art period dominated by the works of Picasso, Braque, and Matisse,” said the multi-media artist known primarily for his three-dimensional steel images and Valdosta State University’s seventh president, serving from 2002 to 2008. “The use of multiple profiles is a recurring Picasso theme.”

The process of installing the sculpture began early Monday morning and concluded Tuesday afternoon. It involved nearly a dozen people, including steel and electricity experts, and required a lift system, a lot of muscle power, and an attention to detail.

When the frame was in place, Kay Jennett said, “It’s perfect. I have dreamed about this.”

The Jennetts were inspired to commission one of Zaccari’s sculptures for the facility named in honor of their longtime commitment to the university after they visited his one-person show at the Annette Howell Turner Center of the Arts in June of 2011. Seeing a smaller sculpture that appealed to them, they approached Zaccari with an idea.

“From that point on, the creative juices began to flow in new directions -- especially the combination of stainless steel, aluminum, and the application of high-quality automotive paints -- to build a colorful, whimsical sculpture,” he said. “I developed three small working models, 9 inches by 6 inches, for the Jennetts, and they immediately selected the images, forms, and colors for the piece to be installed. That was the easy part. The challenges began to accumulate. How do I hang a half-ton sculpture on the foyer wall? How do I duplicate computer-generated color for such a large metal sculpture? That’s when the talented people at Voigt’s Sheet Metal Works Inc. came to the rescue. They were able to solve all issues with developing the sculpture and installing it at the selected site. I asked for assistance from Thomas Collision Center, a company well known for quality automotive painting. The 14 colors were matched with only a 15 percent differential to accuracy of the original computer model colors.”

“Woman with a Multi-colored Hat” is the latest piece to be added to the university’s permanent art collection. Zaccari has a 7-foot steel sculpture titled “Black Bird” in the outdoor art collection. It sits between the Student Union and Odum Library. Five additional pieces were purchased during his June 2011 show, including three three-dimensional mixed media works, a pastel, and an acrylic. A couple of them feature a variation of the female profile.

“For me, the sculpture has pushed new explorations and will open yet other avenues of research, drawings, shapes, and forms -- all leading to new outcomes in a never-ending cycle of creativity,” said Zaccari, who, because he is always searching, always trying new things, always pushing himself outside his comfort zone artistically, was led to use automotive paints in his latest design. “Isn’t that what a university is all about? That is my message to future generations who will view the sculpture.”

What Zaccari said …

About the process: “I first create simple line drawings and then turn the lines into paper shapes. The shapes are fed into a computer hard drive for refinement and mathematical calculations. For example, a paper shape that was 1.5 inches in the model became 60.5 inches in the metal. The shapes are then cut to projected size by a water-jet plasma cutter. Pneumatic rollers are used to shape the metal to duplicate the original paper model. Individual pieces are painted and the sculpture is then built at the site.”

About the Jennetts: “I’m very gratified by the Jennetts’ invitation to design and build a sculpture for the lecture hall. Jerry and Kay strongly endorse and support VSU’s role, scope, and mission. Throughout the last 15 years, they have given freely of their time, as well as substantial financial gifts, to assist many divisions of the university. I see the sculpture as another significant step in the Kay and Jerry Jennett legacy and how two individuals have made a positive impact on VSU’s future. The sculpture is their way of encouraging others to reach out and touch VSU’s important regional mission.”

About the observer: “I hope the observer of the sculpture reacts positively to its size, technical applications, colors, and overall whimsical presentation. I encourage the viewer, when standing before the sculpture, to put the puzzle of various views together into a whole. When entering the foyer, the sculpture should demand attention. It can be viewed from the ground floor, stairway, or second-level balcony. Lighting will be added next week to create shadow forms throughout the foyers. This was a planned end result, with special emphasis on how the sculpture would be viewed during evening and night hours. It’s as though the sculpture will have one presence during the daytime hours and another at night. The shadow forms will create another dimension for the viewer.”

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