DSU sculptor has big plans for Delta
by Courtney Stevens
Oct 12, 2013 | 8429 views | 0 0 comments | 618 618 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DSU Sculptor
Stanley reviews tools that are in the studio to be used for sculpting. He said the DSU program is impressive and he plans to expand it.
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Woodchips are flying and metal is grinding in Michael Stanley's sculpture classes at Delta State University.

Stanley is the new assistant professor of art and currently teaches beginning drawing, 3D design one and two, and sculpture one through six.

Stanley received his bachelor of fine arts in sculpture from the University of South Dakota.

After graduation and a little traveling, Stanley settled in New Orleans.

"I worked down there for about three years in the New Orleans School of Glassworks. I was in charge of the metal department," said Stanley.

However, after Hurricane Katrina ravaged all of New Orleans, Stanley was forced to leave.

"Katrina hit and I lost everything. I was living up town and there was about seven feet of water in my house," said Stanley.

It was then that he decided to attend graduate school, however, that was even more of a challenge than expected due to his losses during Katrina.

"Nobody would take me because I lost my entire portfolio," said Stanley.

Stanley was finally accepted to the art program at Iowa State University on a temporary basis.

"They were the only people to even consider me. Once I got there and they found out I am an artist and I do know what I'm doing, I got my graduate degree in integrated visual arts, which basically means that I studied a lot with how people interact with art in their lives," said Stanley.

Iowa State hired him after graduate school and he taught there the last five years.

While Stanley enjoyed his students and colleagues, it was the small town feel of Delta State that drew him to the university.

"I had been looking for a smaller school — more teaching oriented. Living in New Orleans I had been through the Delta. I really like this area a lot and fell in love with this area.

"When the job became open it was a no brainer to apply," said Stanley.

It didn't take long before Stanley and his wife were both in love with the Delta.

"It has a lot of character, really great people, a beautiful campus, a lot of opportunities, and there's a lot of need in Mississippi as well," said Stanley.

Stanley's wife, a former head women's basketball coach is volunteering with DSU's women's basketball team and looking for a position.

Stanley is now teaching classes as well as working to make Delta State's art facilities even better.

"These facilities are really great facilities, really big rooms and lots of space. We are actually going to be expanding out the back for a stone carving area.

"A professor from Belhaven just donated another foundry, we have two now and can melt and pour aluminum bronze," said Stanley.

While there is currently only one sculpture major at Delta State, Stanley's hopes are high for the future.

"I hope we can get it up and running and get the students excited about it too," said Stanley.

Teaching is not this sculptor's only passion, though.

"I broke into the pubic art world about three or four years ago," said Stanley.

Stanley owned a sculpture and furniture design studio in Iowa. "That really opened up a lot of doors for me — a lot of opportunities. I've done a lot of public work with furniture design in buildings and sculpture work," said Stanley.

A piece of his work hangs in the United States Department of Agriculture facility after winning a USDA national competition

"It's a large eight-foot metal fabricated steel ball, based on microorganisms and bacteria of mad cow disease and avian flu. It's hanging from the ceiling in their new facility," said Stanley.

"I also really like kinetic arts and moving parts, artwork you're supposed to touch."

Because of this, Stanley also enjoys designing furniture on the side.

"I really like that because furniture is something we integrate into our lives and we don't really think about it.

"It really goes heavily on the theme of interactive art, which I like," he said.

Stanley plans to pair with the Delta Arts Alliance to begin teaching welding classes to local high school students that are at risk of dropping out of the education track after high school or not finishing their education.

"Our country is in dire need of welders. We are short in that area and there are jobs everywhere. It's a skill that's teachable and learnable," said Stanley.

He hopes that through showing youth a different side of art, he can light a spark that will drive them to continue their education.

Stanley said he appreciates the Hazel and Jimmy Sanders Sculpture Garden on front of the BPAC on DSU's campus.

"I absolutely love it. I think it's in a great location, they do a great job selecting their artists, and I think the people that run it do a fantastic job."

Stanley enjoys the art located on the DSU campus and is pleased with the fact that the sculptures are rotated in and out every 18 months.

"My wife and I … we go and walk around it; take a look at the sculptures, and the fact that it does rotate; it's never going to get old. I wish that every community had something like this, the arts would just be flourishing," said Stanley.