Skip to content. Skip to main navigation.

UTA sculptor's work chosen for prestigious juried show

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 • Media Contact: Teresa Woodard Schnyder

artexhibitionsfacultyliberal artsAll Topics

Darryl Lauster's untitled sculpture is a tribute to the Friendship 7 spacecraft. It will be on display in Ocala, Fla. until late 2019. 

Darryl Lauster, associate professor of sculpture at The University of Texas at Arlington, is one of 10 artists selected from 117 entries from around the world to display his work at the 2018-19 Ocala Outdoor Sculpture Competition in Ocala, Fla.

Lauster’s sculpture is a tribute to the early days of American space exploration and to legendary astronaut and one-time senator John Glenn.

“Much of my work relates to American history,” Lauster explained. “When John Glenn died, I wanted to create something to honor his achievements and the achievements of the initial astronauts who began space travel in the 1960s, the so-called Mercury Seven. This was a seminal moment in time for the United States.”

In early 2017, Lauster received a grant from the College of Liberal Arts’ Wright Faculty Research Endowment. It allowed him to purchase material and begin the complex process of bringing his idea to realization. By the end of the 2017, he had created an impressive 8-foot by 7-foot steel scale replica of Friendship 7, the spacecraft in which Glenn orbited the earth.

“I wanted to create it in steel because Glenn flew for the Army, Navy and Marines, so I not only wanted to try to replicate the shuttle, but honor his history of flight with military,” Lauster said. “While I was working on it, I had the idea to create a solar component, which powers a series of interior sparkling lights. I created a small viewfinder where you can look inside the ship and see the lights which reference stars and celestial lights. Even though the sculpture is on the ground, you can see space.”

Associate Professor of Sculpture Darryl Lauster

Lauster is one of the approximately 60 artists who make up the distinguished faculty of UTA’s Art and Art History Department, which offers the second largest undergraduate art program in Texas. The faculty includes a Guggenheim Fellow, two Joan Mitchell Award recipients and three Moss/Chumley Award recipients. Faculty members have been invited to exhibit in prestigious shows at the Dallas Museum of Art, The Amon Carter Museum, The Central Academy of Art and Design in Beijing, and at venues in Berlin, Rome, Milan, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and Chicago.

“I am constantly in awe of the tremendously talented people I work with on the UTA campus and particularly in the College of Liberal Arts. Darryl is a wonderful example of this. He is artist who uses his studio not only to inspire a new generation of artists, but also to continually hone his craft,” College of Liberal Arts Dean Elisabeth Cawthon said. “What a thrill that the College was able to support this project.”

Lauster said while the piece was interesting to make, it was extremely complex because he wanted the public to immediately recognize the sculpture as the Friendship 7 spacecraft. He wanted it to look iconic and he quickly realized he achieved that when he was driving the sculpture from one location to another.

“I purchased the materials and began to work on it when I was in New York during the summer. When I drove it back to Arlington so that I could continue working on it, I had people waving at me and honking at me and pointing to the back of my truck asking, ‘Hey is that a shuttle?’ People recognized it even before it was complete,” he said.

He finished the sculpture in his studio on the UTA campus, side by side with his students so they could see how a project of such scale comes together.

Lauster said it is an honor to be chosen for the Ocala Outdoor Sculpture Competition, one of the most well-known sculpture competitions in the nation. The piece will be on display in Ocala for the next 20 months.

“It’s special for this piece to be in Florida, where the Friendship 7 originally launched,” Lauster said. “I’m so appreciative for the generous stipend I received from Dean Cawthon and it’s quite gratifying to see this come full circle and represent UTA at a prestigious outdoor exhibition.”