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Sculpture studio

John Labatt Visual Arts Centre, Western University


Visual arts professor Soheila Esfahani, MFA’10 (right), wants to expose her students to unexpected sculpture materials—not just clay or plaster, but wood and abandoned objects. It led her sculpture class to the wood shop in Western’s John Labatt Visual Arts Centre.

The assignment? Craft artwork from two eight-foot planks, no more and no less. “I always try to include a wood-based sculpture so students learn to use power tools. It is a little intimidating to come in cold,” Esfahani says. “Within a couple of classes, they are diving in.”

Dahlia Sullivan, a second-year bachelor of fine arts student (left), is creating a chain-style sculpture—sawing, sanding and connecting wooden shapes. “Students are ambitious in these courses. They tend to push the limits of what is possible,” says Esfahani.

They aren’t all studying visual arts. Some, like a medical sciences student, are taking the class as an elective. Those different backgrounds bring the class “alive,” Esfahani says.

No matter their major, students in her sculpture class walk away with new skills. “Soheila is so wise, so kind—just a really amazing professor,” Sullivan says. “She pushes us to get out of our comfort zone.”