By Madison Boboltz , Staff Writer
Steve Neves, professor of art at Hardin-Simmons University since 2004, recently finished his newest artistic contribution to campus, which is now boldly displayed on a brick wall in the alumni circle.
Neves, who teaches a variety of courses and does work for HSU and for the public, collaborated with other faculty and staff to make this new piece possible.
“It started years ago with Travis Frampton. I believe this was a project that was instigated by the class of 2016. They wanted to make something in honor of Simmons, because he was a great guy. Travis wanted us to do this sculpture of James Simmons and Mary and Robert as well,” Neves said.
The piece itself is a large medallion which features portraits of James Simmons, his wife Mary and their son Robert. Surrounding the portraits is text, resembling Simmons’ own handwriting, which includes his famous quote, “I did speak.”
The medallion was created of bronze, which is the medium Neves typically uses in his work.
Neves said that this piece was a unique project for him because he has never done anything like it before.
“All of the things I’ve done in bronze, up until that point, have been three dimensional. This one is very lightly three dimensional, but it’s more like a coin, and so you can imagine trying to carve a quarter. It’s in between a drawing and a sculpture,” Neves said.
When asked what the most difficult part of the process was, Neves described the difficulty of making the portraits identifiable.
“Trying to get accurate portraits is always a challenge. You have to get the proportions right and make it recognizable with limited amounts of space and limited depth. I think if I had done it in a full sculpture, it might have been easier for me. Trying to capture them in that intermediate area between 2D and 3D,” Neves explained.
Neves said he enjoyed collaborating with others to make this statue match the vision of those involved.
“The final placement was decided by the president and other people on campus. Regarding the sculpture itself, the text components were crafted by Todd Clower here on campus as well. Travis had a hand in all of it as well. He proposed the internal components, like the portraits. We talked about which texts should be in there and what the best placements would be,” Neves said.
Overall, Neves expressed that he is pleased with the final product.
“I was honored to work on the project. I enjoyed it. I think it turned out well. I hope that when students, visitors and alumni see it, they become more curious about the history of our university,” Neves said.
Neves also mentioned why he personally believes the statue is an important landmark here on campus.
“Working here as long as I have, it is only recently that I’ve learned about the true legacy of Simmons and what an important man he was, and what a brave man he was. I think that in this time in our history and culture, it’s really important to recognize people like him. It is a great heritage for us to honor,” Neves said.