NRCC art instructor celebrates anniversary of sculpture installation
|New River Community College (NRCC) art and architecture instructor Jerry Smith traveled to Arnold, Maryland, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Anne Arundel Community College this fall. But for Smith, this was more than a chance to attend a black tie gala and visit friends at the college where he once taught architecture courses. Smith was also marking the 40th anniversary of the installation of his steel sculpture entitled “Frontier” at Anne Arundel.
Smith, a West Virginia native, has taught at NRCC since 1986 and has a lengthy professional background as an architect and educator. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Virginia Tech and attending Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for a master’s degree, Smith spent time working for an architectural firm in Vienna, Virginia. In 1968, he made the fortuitous move to Anne Arundel to become the director of the college’s fledgling architecture program.
In 1971, Smith got together with the RTKL architectural firm to design the sculpture and oversaw its fabrication by Bethlehem Steel Corporation’s Buffalo Tank Division in Baltimore. “The fabrication was really neat,” says Smith. “I got to go to Baltimore and watch as the pieces got cut by robots – it was like watching something out of Star Wars.”
Smith’s geometric sculpture representing frontier-era progress was the first permanent outdoor sculpture on Anne Arundel’s campus. And it isn’t hard for visitors to the college’s main campus to spot – the piece measures 22 by 19 by 9 feet and weighs in at 5 tons.
Smith’s piece is also part of the Smithsonian Art Museum’s Inventory of American Sculpture. The inventory includes works from the colonial era through contemporary times and is designed to provide descriptive and location information on artworks by American artists in public and private collections worldwide.
Smith says he’s always been interested in art and design and hopes to convey his interest and passion for the uniqueness of design to his students. “I love design because it’s unlike anything else,” he says. “I tell my students when they first join my classes, ‘this isn’t like math or science or English, it’s just totally different from anything else out there.’ ”