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New sculptures added to outdoor art exhibit

Recent art installations
Bob Doster's "March Wind" on UNG's Gainesville Campus and Joni Younkins-Herzog's "Delirium" on the Dahlonega Campus are two new additions to the North Georgia Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition, which features 15 sculptures across four UNG campuses.

New sculptures have made their way to the University of North Georgia's (UNG) campuses for the 2018-19 academic year, joining a regional juried exhibition launched in 2010 by Dr. Jon Mehlferber, professor of visual arts at UNG, to highlight contemporary Appalachian art and artists.

Mehlferber said the displays add an important element to campus. Another faculty member once told Mehlferber he wouldn't have come to UNG if it didn't have the North Georgia Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition, which now features 15 pieces across four campuses.

The program provides a stipend for the artists, and if all goes well, the artists may be able to sell their sculpture, Mehlferber said. In previous years, campus groups have purchased sculptures to make them a permanent addition to campus.

Joni Younkins-Herzog created the "Delirium" sculpture on display behind Hansford Hall on UNG's Dahlonega Campus following a rough two-week art residency in Ghana. At one point, she had taken malaria pills, was feverish in her hut and could hear the booming 5 a.m. Islamic call to prayer in the textile-driven nation. She felt, as she later recalled, quite "delirious."

Upon making it back to Sarasota, Florida, Younkins-Herzog channeled those feelings into a basket-like sculpture filled with abaca fiber. As time went on, she replaced the abaca with horse and human hair.

"It's a loaded piece," said Younkins-Herzog, recalling all that inspired it.

The Athens, Georgia, resident isn't new to the sculpture exhibit. She has had pieces featured in previous years.

Bob Doster, whose "Rising Star" sculpture is on the Cumming Campus, had his "March Wind" piece added to the exhibit this year in front of the Student Center on the Gainesville Campus. Doster said "March Wind," which features blowing leaves, was inspired by growing up in the country surrounded by hardwood forest in South Carolina.

He is always glad to have his sculptures on college campuses.

"It's an honor. It gives me a chance to showcase my work in different locations," said Doster, whose Backstreet Studios is located in Lancaster, South Carolina. "It's good to have young folks seeing something for the first time and giving me their feedback on it."

Gregory Johnson, a resident of Cumming, Georgia, said his work is in 23 sculpture tours. His "Radiance" piece is a newcomer in front of the Library Technology Center on the Dahlonega Campus. Two years ago his sculpture "Top Notch" was in the same place.

"It's a great way to be seen," Johnson said.

One of Johnson's most notable sculptures is "Modern Peach," a 27-foot tall sculpture in downtown Atlanta near the CNN Center. When it comes to modern art, he said it's best not to ask what a sculpture is but the feelings and expressions it evokes.

"Radiance is a work that references Mother Nature in motion — whether the warmth of the sun, planetary movement, it suggests circular movement," Johnson said.

A pair of untitled sculptures from UNG Visual Arts alumnus Scott Lacey on the Dahlonega and Oconee campuses aren't new this year, but they mark a point of pride for Mehlferber in seeing a former student contribute.

Sculptures are on display on the Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville and Oconee campuses for one or more years. Visit the North Georgia Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition's website for information on all of the current displays.

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