Nature is inspirational force for artist, instructor

April 29th, 2010

Ed Thornburg, director of the Art Gallery and lecturer of fine arts, works in close proximity to nature by recycling discarded items into art.

“Now, I’m really interested in found art. It’s yours to do something really original but you have to find it first,” Thornburg said.

Take for instance his latest piece, “Corvair.” Thornburg found a hood of a Chevrolet Corvair on the property of his home. The previous owner strapped the car hood to his pickup truck to haul wood and rocks. Eventually, the Corvair hood was discarded near the Middlefork Reservoir in Richmond, Ind., that borders Thornburg’s property.

“I love this piece. The edge reminds me of a shore line,” Thornburg said. “The Corvair was once an extremely popular car. Still today it’s a soft spot for some people.”

The sculpture is hung by the same metal hook and chain used to drag it around the yard for scrap duty.

Thornburg recently had a sculptured piece exhibited in a three-county show.  Thornburg’s three-dimensional copper sculpture, “Earthscape Cupra One,” was accepted to the juried art competition at the Minnetrista Center in Muncie, Ind.

The Minnetrista Center held its competition in September with artists throughout the region submitting creative work inspired by the land. Winning entries were displayed in the exhibit “Open Space: Art About the Land” at the Minnetrista Center, the Art Association of Henry County and the Anderson Center for the Arts from September to January.

“As the selection of Ed Thornburg’s sculpture for this juried art show illustrates, IU East professors do more than teach,” Joanne Passet, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, said. “As curator of the art gallery, lecturer, and artist, Ed’s dedication to art inspires his students and colleagues.  Whether he is teaching metalsmithing or hanging stunning new exhibits, Ed’s many contributions to the arts truly enrich the IU East campus.”

“Copper is so attractive just the way it is but what I try to do is to try to figure out a new way to use copper,” Thornburg said. “I wanted to create a sculpture that wasn’t too big so, I started with a flat copper box that I hammered to give it that texture. Then I bent the edges back, giving it that vegetation look.”

Thornburg is well-known throughout the east central Indiana region. A long-time educator, Thornburg first taught science and was an assistant principal at Whitewater Elementary School.

He then went on to teach art at Northeastern Elementary School from 1978-2002. He joined IU East in 1982 as an art adjunct instructor. He has received the IU East Faculty Senate Award for Outstanding Adjunct Faculty and the Chancellor’s Award for Artistic Contribution to the “Campaign for Community” Drive for IU East.

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