A forklift containing a nearly 400-pound sculpture was seen driving across the Newman University campus on the afternoon of Feb. 26.
The much-anticipated sculpture was that of Bishop Emeritus Eugene J. Gerber, the namesake of the university’s newest building, the Bishop Gerber Science Center.
When talk of the sculpture began more than a year ago, friend of Newman, Myra Devlin, suggested the board of trustees contact artist Lori Norwood of Lawrence, Kansas.
After interviewing Norwood and other artists, the board decided that she was indeed a great choice for their vision.
Former board Chair Linda Davis said, “We saw some of her work and felt like she would capture him well, and I think she’s done a wonderful job doing that.”
Norwood said the 16-month process from beginning to end consisted of four months of planning, six months with the clay and six months in the foundry.
“This was a really cool project,” said Norwood. “We started with this loose idea of capturing (the bishop); the details, at what age, what guise and how to best represent him.
“The nuance of what makes character can be very subtle; the tilt of the head, the way they hold their hands and so much more,” she continued. “So I spent a great deal of time concentrating on how to find that nuance. Finding the character of someone that so many people know and love — and finding him physically in sculpture so that it resonates with the people who know him — that’s what my job is all about.”
Norwood said she even met with the bishop in order to get to know him a little better.
“One of my favorite things about my work is getting to meet the people I portray. I felt honored to meet him. … He’s a pretty cool guy and I wanted that to come across. He deserves a really good sculpture.”
President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D., said she was excited to finally have the sculpture in its permanent place in front of the Bishop Gerber Science Center.
“It’s like a dream come true — we’ve waited so long. Lori has been so attentive to detail, so loving and caring. And she’s been amazing.”