UNT students create sculptures for seniors in Denton

UNT students create sculptures for seniors

DENTON - In the quiet Lake Forest Village retirement community, there are sights you don't expect. Bold designs and sharp edges have everyone talking.

"It's awesome," said one resident.

"Spectacular," said another.

There's universal praise for new sculptures that have been placed around their retirement community by University of North Texas art students.

A while back, the retirement community approached UNT's art department to ask if there were any student pieces they might be able to share. UNT Assistant Professor of Studio Art Alicia Eggert responded with an even more ambitious plan, challenging her students to create designs for the community.

Now, a giant pine cone rendered from rusted steel, a peacock created from scrap metal and an abstract stampede carved from wood are welcome parts of the landscape.

"The response on this artwork and the sculptures and the students has been phenomenal," said Laura Wells, who works on the staff of Lake Forest Village and helped with the program.

The work was a class assignment for students. They did site visits to brainstorm ideas and then submitted designs to residents, who helped decide which pieces to select. Four designs were placed on campus, where they'll remain for up to a year.

There are already plans to continue the program next school year.

"It really gives students a sense of what it's like to work as an artist in the world after school," Eggert said. "It shows them one way they could actually make a living as an artist."

It's many of the students' first chance to put large pieces in front of a real audience and think about the challenges of being a commercial artist.

"I'm really excited and honored to have my sculpture here," said Mani Negarestan, a UNT senior who created the abstract stampede.

Negarestan said it's the largest sculpture he's ever done and the first he's installed outdoors. It has been a big hit with residents.

"You stand back and say, 'Wow! That is unreal!'" said resident Frank Kluge. "I'm glad to see these young people come out and share their art, share their creativity, share their mind with us.  Because it broadens my mind."

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