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What to Expect

Sculpture training often involves demonstrations and presentations. If you're a self-guided individual who likes to learn by getting your hands dirty, check out this field of study.

Creating a work of art can be self-affirming. For Robbie Forbes, it was very much so. "I have a muscle disease....My doctor kept limiting what I was allowed to do, until I was not allowed to do anything," remembers Forbes, a graduate of Louisiana State University. She was majoring in jewelry-making before she tried her hand at sculpture.

To prove that she could do anything, Forbes eventually completed a sculpture that was seven feet tall. "I went into physical therapy to build up my muscles and get to where I could do stuff everyone else took for granted, and [I] loved the [sculpture] class."

She learned from a professor that everyone brings limitations to a project, whether they are physical or not.

Sculpture classes, at least advanced ones, are individual in nature. Most of the work is studio work, with a little lecture mixed in. It's mainly hands-on learning, she says.

Forbes also did a work-study in an art gallery. "I could do homework while I was there, see shows all of the time, speak to artists, help put shows up and get to see a side to it no one else got to see. I helped students set up graduation shows, spoke to parents and got to ask artists embarrassing questions."

Forbes says beginning students may find challenges learning how to use the tools in sculpting, "since you are playing with potentially dangerous stuff."

Forbes chose the BFA, rather than the BA, a decision that she regrets. "A BFA sticks out like a sore thumb and everyone asks how I thought a degree in art would help me find a job -- employers especially. I think that if I had taken the BA, I would have found a better job faster," she says.

How to Prepare

"I would say that basically just helping dad around the house and becoming familiar with tools will be a wonderful idea, especially if you are a girl," says Forbes.

To those preparing for studies in sculpture, former student David Van Ness has some simple advice: "The more you know, the better. I didn't know anything and was intimidated for a while. My training in high school was only in drawing and a little bit in painting."


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