Travels lead to book on sculpture

Friday, December 9, 2005

In other countries, sculpture and carving are much more important aspects of culture.

Dr. Edwin Smith's travels have taken him to six continents and numerous countries in search of sculpture from different cultures.

After 14 years of journeying, Smith has now published a book called "Carving: In Cultures Around the World," using his own collection of pieces picked up during those trips.

The 100-page book was printed in late November by a Massachusetts publisher, funded by Smith himself. "Carving" is Smith's sixth book and deals with a subject close to his own heart. Smith is a longtime sculptor and teaches the subject along with art education at Southeast Missouri State University.

Smith had no idea his travels would lead him to compile a book when he started in Bulgaria in 1991.

"It was kind of a secondary idea," Smith said. "I went to those countries to do research in children's art."

But in his journeys Smith's love of sculpture and carving wouldn't allow him to ignore the native works. In other countries, Smith said, sculpture and carving are much more important aspects of culture.

'Died and went to heaven'

Some countries, like in Europe and South America, actually teach the art to schoolchildren. Schools dedicated solely to sculpting and carving are also commonplace, Smith said. Carving and sculpting were once commonplace in the United States, commonly used as a pastime for rural people, but not anymore.

"I thought I had died and went to heaven" Smith said of one Indian village where men and boys worked all day producing carvings and sculptures.

Smith hopes the book can be used to teach students about the art and its forms around the world, or just as an interesting read for someone interested in sculpting.

Robert Scherer, a local sculptor who has a piece in Smith's collection, is currently reading the book.

"It's interesting to see all the different perspectives of artists all over the world," said Scherer.

Smith plans to market the book himself. Anyone interested in finding out more information can call Smith at 651-2720 or 334-8981.

335-6611, extension 182

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