Critically acclaimed artist Benjamin Victor spent last week at Peru State College, sculpting an eight-foot-tall art piece to display at the recently renovated Oak Bowl Stadium.
Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, Dr. Michaela Willis, chair of the ‘1% for Art Committee’, said,” We are excited to have this renowned artist, Benjamin Victor, as part of this important project for our institution. As a committee, we were impressed by his representation of the subject matter, level of detail, ability to capture idea of movement and, of course, the quality of his prior work.
Nebraska’s “1% for Art Law” has been in effect since 1978, and has generated over $3 million in artwork for Nebraska’s state buildings, colleges, and university system.
Projects vary in size, with figures ranging from $5,000 to $150,000 or more. The number of projects generated each year is dependent on legislative appropriations for new construction in excess of $500,000 and remodeling or renovation of a public building in excess of $250,000. Buildings meeting this criteria must be open to public access in order for a project to take effect. An Art Selection Committee, coordinated through the Nebraska Arts Council, is established for each project and determines the criteria for suitable locations, art forms and artist eligibility.
Victor is best known for his sculpture of Sarah Winnemucca, Paiute activist in Nevada, which her home state installed at the National Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol in 2005. Victor was only 26 years old at the time, becoming the youngest artist to have a work in the National Statuary Hall. Nine years later he became the only living artist to have two works in Statuary Hall.
Victor grew up in California, but attended Northern State University in South Dakota, studying art and sculpture. His first work to receive attention was a life-size statue of the biblical character Samson, sculpted when he was a sophomore in college. The piece earned him a scholarship from the prestigious National Sculpture Society in New York City. At age 23, he was commissioned to produce his proposal of a trio of solders for the Aberdeen Regional Airport War Memorial in South Dakota.
Victor describes his talent as “A gift from God.” Art critics and organizations, including the National Sculpture Society in New York City, continue to recognize the aesthetic and conceptual integrity of Benjamin’s artwork
The 8 feet tall structure of a
historic football player Victor is completing for Peru State College will be near the entrance of the Oak Bowl Stadium. The football player will not be anyone specific but an icon of past football players and future football players said Victor.
“I don’t use my face at the portrait but I use it for the expression” said Victor as he motioned to a large storyboard with close up photos of himself making different expressions.
“I use it for the expressions. I find the expression I wanted then I tried to pencil in some of the indentations of the face and the shadows, I really tried to pay attention to those as I was sculpting so I didn’t lose the three dimension quality.” Victor explained.
His favorite part of the process is anything anatomical – the hands and especially the face that holds so much expression. His tool of the trade is using large mirrors.
“I wheel them [mirrors] around so I can look at not only myself but the muscles and bones in your face but also to look at the piece, like Ill put a mirror in front of it and sometimes it will look good to you while your working on it then you’ll look in the mirror and see things that are off, it’s a neat little trick-tool of the trade.”
His passion and drive clearly show in each of his unique and profound creations. With expressive features, exquisite detail, and thought-provoking content, this piece of work by Benjamin Victor is sure to take its place among the great masterpieces of his art history.
The Oak Bowl project utilized state-appropriated monies ($7.5 million), as well as contributions from private donors, to fund a $9 million renovation of the Oak Bowl stadium, press box, concourse area, concession stand, restrooms and pedestrian access. As one of the largest outdoor facilities in southeast Nebraska, the lighted, turfed field is used for the college’s football program, active intramural program and a variety of other academic and co-curricular activities such as band competitions, camps and high school football play-offs.
Nebraska’s 1% for Art law has been in effect since 1978, and has generated more than $3 million dollars in artwork for Nebraska’s state buildings, the Nebraska State College System and the University of Nebraska system.
Projects vary in size, with figures ranging from $5,000 to $150,000 or more. The number of projects generated each year is dependent on legislative appropriations for new construction in excess of $500,000 and remodeling or renovation of a public building in excess of $250,000. Buildings meeting this criteria must be open to public access in order for a project to take effect.
An Art Selection Committee, coordinated through the Nebraska Arts Council, is established for each project and determines the criteria for suitable locations, art forms and artist eligibility.