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Nicolet students sculpt with a purpose

Sculptor Paul Bobrowitz works with senior Bettine Carey to weld a bracket for hanging one of the metal sculptures that was created by Nicolet High School arts students on Oct. 9

Sculptor Paul Bobrowitz works with senior Bettine Carey to weld a bracket for hanging one of the metal sculptures that was created by Nicolet High School arts students on Oct. 9 Photo By C.T. Kruger

Oct. 17, 2012

Glendale - For Nicolet High School students, a special lesson in sculpting was about the process, not about the product.

Sculptor Paul Bobrowitz from Colgate worked with students from Nicolet for a week at the beginning of October to create two large-scale sculptures made from recycled materials.

Although the final product is important - the sculptures will be placed on Nicolet property - the emphasis was more on the lessons Bobrowitz wanted the students to take away from the experience.

"The take-away I want them to have is they have a chance to work with something and see that even junk can be utilized for a purpose, and nothing shouldn't be recycled," he said. "Everything should be recycled in some way, shape or form."

Bobrowitz also worked with the students to create smaller pieces of sculpture, each of which will be auctioned at the annual Nicolet Foundation fundraiser.

Throughout his artistic career, Bobrowitz has created sculptures for corporations, outdoor civic areas in various cities, and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and he has worked with many schools in the past.

His main materials used are mild steel, including stainless steel, and aluminum.

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During his lessons, he not only teaches students about sculpture, but also educates them on design, problem solving, recycling and safe work habits, particularly welding and using the equipment necessary to create works of art.

Teaching students other elements, including life lessons, was at the forefront of the lesson for Nicolet Art Teacher Patricia Leeson.

Instead if having students simply go to a store and easily select materials to create the final product, Leeson said she wanted students to deal with what was thrown at them, "which is kind of life."

Though students learned how to work with their hands and use welding equipment safely, Leeson focused much of her sculpting discussions on technology, critical thinking and problem solving.

"I think it's really important to teach life skills to students," she said. "It's really not as much about the product as it is about the process. Although, we do like to have a nice product, that's not the end-all."

The Nicolet Art Department was able to host Bobrowitz as the artist in residence because of a grant provided by the Nicolet Foundation. The auction of the works created is intended to offset some of the program's costs.

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