Spirit of Hot SpringsREAD ONLINE
Bryant artist’s work draws award from Delta ExhibitionPublished August 10, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
BRYANT — Artist Jeff Sharp of Bryant said he almost felt like he was performing “community service” as he drove along the back roads of Saline County, searching for items he might use to create a piece of art.
He found some old tires, a soap drum and plywood. He took these discarded items and created a sculpture of an owl that he titled Tread Lightly.
Sharp, 24, included the sculpture in his senior art show in March at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, where the work won awards. He was encouraged to enter it in the 56th annual Delta Exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center. He did just that, and and he won a Delta Award, which included a cash prize of $750.
“This is the first sculpture I’ve ever created and the first time I’ve ever entered anything [outside of school],” he said, smiling. “It’s all new to me.
“I did not expect to get in the Delta, much less win anything. This is a huge honor for me.”
Sharp said he chose to create an owl to point out the dangers of illegally dumped materials.
“People normally think of an owl as a peaceful animal perched on a tree, but in reality, it is a predator with sharp, strong talons. It can be dangerous,” he said.
“Old tires thrown out alongside the road pose dangers, too,” Sharp said, noting that sharp steel often protrudes through the tires. “Illegally dumped items like tires pose a threat to us and the environment.”
Sharp said he drew a picture of the owl before he started the sculpture.
“I studied the anatomy of the owl so I could get it to look as real as possible. I used a reciprocating saw to cut up the tires. Then I began layering the tire treads, one pile at a time, leaving some of the steel exposed. I tried to match the body parts [of the owl] the best I could,” he said.
“I just winged it,” Sharp said with a smile.
Sharp is the son of Bob and Karen Sharp of Bryant. He graduated from Bryant High School in 2008 and from OBU in May with a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design. He is a graphic designer at Publishing Concepts Inc. in Little Rock.
“I am currently looking for my next project,” he said, noting that he plans to enter next year’s Delta Exhibition.
“I am definitely more into this [sculpting],” he said. “It started out as a kind of hobby, but I may try to make it my life.
“I like to build things rather than paint.”
In June, Sharp attended the Delta Exhibition’s opening, where the juror, Brian Rutenberg of New York City, discussed the show.
“During his lecture, he singled out my work,” Sharp said. “He talked about how hard is it to create something out of tires. He said what artists do is hard work. He encouraged me to continue making art.”
This year’s Delta Exhibition will remain on display through Sept. 28 in the Townsend Wolf Gallery of the Arkansas Arts Center at Ninth and Commerce streets in Little Rock.
For more information, call (501) 372-4000 or visit www.arkarts.com.