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Craig Wedderspoon Sculpture
BY CRAIG WEDDERSPOON Special to the Times

Artist: Sculpture survives April 27 tornado, gains meaning

Editor's Note: Sculptor Craig Wedderspoon provided these comments on his tornado-damaged sculpture "Fast" that is on display at the Hardin Center.

Fast gained its name from comments made by my mentor, sculptor Lester Van Winkle. While visiting the University of Alabama campus in November 2010, Lester was kind enough to spend a little time with me discussing this sculpture that I had just finished and was loading onto a truck to install in an exhibition in Miami, Fla. Lester kept saying, "Man, Craig, this piece is fast ... it's just fast."

Hence, the title of the sculpture was born.

After the piece returned from the exhibition, it moved to a local Tuscaloosa estate where I store all my larger outdoor works when they are between public venues. This estate was located in the Hillcrest neighborhood in Tuscaloosa.

As so many of us are aware, on April 27, 2011, Alabama suffered greatly from an outbreak of severe tornadoes.

The Hillcrest neighborhood was among the hardest hit in Tuscaloosa. Tragically, the estate where this piece was installed, along with the rest of the neighborhood, was wiped off the face of the map on that afternoon ... this sculpture along with it.

The sculpture and the hundreds of hours that went into its making were gone, but there were far more important things with which to be concerned than the loss of simple things.

There was much work to be done and many people to be helped.

A few days, later I received a call from one of my students informing me that the sculpture had shown up on Woods Quad on the UA campus.

Attached to the sculpture was a note stating that the piece had been found near the intersection of Hackberry Lane and 15th Street, and asked that someone do something with it to commemorate what had happened in Tuscaloosa.

This sculpture had been carried by the tornado more than a mile from where it originally began. About a third of the piece is gone, and it is in a rather different arrangement than my initial composition.

I have heard from many folks that small pieces of the sculpture have been found in many locations stretching from Tuscaloosa to Georgia.

This sculpture has become so much more to me than I could have ever conceived.

In this sculpture, I see all the people affected worldwide by natural disaster.

I see the gaping wounds that have scarred the landscape of Alabama.

I see my beloved student, Morgan Sigler, who was killed in the storm on April 27.

I see the horrendous violence that can be wrought by Mother Nature.

I see the strength in the human spirit as we unite to help, comfort and support those who lost the most. I see resilience, and the need for compassion and kindness.

With this sculpture, I offer to you a chance for remembrance and a moment for reflection.

Let us always support our neighbors as we do in times of desperation.

Let us be "Fast."

Spatial Thoughts on Sculpture by Bill West
When I read this, I knew I had to get this out to our readers the world over. Our lives are so consuming today of our time and attention - I recall hearing about the tornadoes in Alabama, but I'll just leave the words to sculptor Craig Weddersoon in this touching read... Sculpture does play an important part in our lives and society - past, present and future. God Bless all effected by this terrible tragedy. Wishing Craig a successful exhibition, well worth your attending!

"Poised and Ready" by Craig Wedderspoon
click here to view above sculpture larger
"Poised and Ready" is one of the sculptures in "Patterns and Form," an exhibit by sculptor Craig Wedderspoon that's being presented through March 9 at the Hardin Center, in conjunction with the Walnut Gallery. There will be a reception and gallery talk featuring Wedderspoon at 5 p.m. Friday at the Hardin Center, as part of First Friday Art Night. (Special to The Times)