Sculpting for change

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By: Cassidy Martenson 


The sculpture classes at Indiana University South Bend are using its talents to create meaningful change in the community. Through careful planning and research, the Sculpture 1 course has changed the purpose of sculpture for students and viewers.

The final project was designed and implemented by Brian Hutsebout, Visiting Assistant Professor of Fine Arts. He challenged students to “not just make a sculpture for the art gallery on campus, but instead consider how their work as an artist can attempt to solve an issue.” While people may think of a sculpture as nothing more than a physical thing sitting on a platform to be viewed this project is designed to challenge that notion. 

Students took on a variety of social issues that they felt strongly about and worked to complete a sculpture that reflected the issue. From gender norms to COVID-19, each student focused on an issue that they cared deeply about. 

It was not simply the creation of the sculpture that this project focused on. According to Hutsebout, “students had to think about their projects from concept to completion.” This began with each student researching their social issue and giving a powerpoint presentation to the class with their research, opinions and their proposal if they desired. 

Due to COVID-19, Hutebout gave his students two options to complete their final project. The project description states that students could complete the project “through the creation and implementation of a “work of art,” or creating a proposal that maps out all of the steps and blueprints for a larger scale piece.” Since working within the community to implement the piece may have been difficult for students during these challenging times, Hutsebout wanted to make sure students have options. 

Evelyn Arenas, a student in the Sculpture 1 class, created a physical sculpture about food insecurity. This is an issue that she feels is prevalent in the community and is something very close to her heart. 

According to Arenas, “I have had my fair share of struggles and can understand the kind of emotional and mental impact it can have on an individual and family.” 

Arenas used her passions and talents to create a four-foot-tall Christmas tree made out of over 200 cans of nonperishable food. 

According to Arenas, “The goal is to create a piece of art that is not only sending a message but will also have a purpose at the end of its completion.” 

After she spreads her message about poverty and food insecurity Arenas plans to donate all of the canned food to the community. 

The sculpture students have proved that art has the power to invoke conversations about social issues. Hutsebout hopes that students will walk away with a better understanding of the implications of their actions, along with their power as artists. 

Arenas wants to encourage students and staff to donate to local food banks this holiday season to support the less fortunate in the community. Any students facing food insecurity are encouraged to contact the Titans Feeding Titans food pantry by calling 574-520-4256 or emailing

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