COLUMBIA - Artist Brett Grill gets back to work after carving himself into history. Grill is an assistant painting and drawing professor for the University of Missouri College of Arts and Science.
However, with his free time Grill is creating nationally recognized art work. His most recent project was a 7 foot statue of Gerald Ford, the 38th president. This statue was unveiled in the United States capitol rotunda on May 3. His sculpture is one of one-hundred honored statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection.
Grill said that his idea for this statue was all around him, as he is a native of Grand Rapids Michigan which is the hometown of Gerald Ford. The statue began to form in his basement studio in Columbia.
Grill's creation process of the statue began with many drawings, in which the top six or eight ideas were kept to be molded. From there Grill searched locally for the materials it would take to complete his project.
After everything is collected the drawings are molded into small twelve inch models which allowed him to decide what idea he would use for his final statue.
Next, Grill created a 24 inch wire skeleton that was used as a sturdy base for his Gerald Ford statue. With this model Grill was able to add fine details for clothing and facial expressions. Grill said that he wanted to capture Gerald Ford in the moment in history when America needed an active president.
Thus, the stance of the statue is wide with one leg in front of another to look like an action pose and books in his hand showing Ford's active nature as a president. It was this scale up model that was presented and selected by Ford Foundation to be the statue that would resided at the capital.
Brett Grill then worked with the commission and the Ford family to enrich the statue with Gerald Ford's personality and values.
With the go ahead Grill created yet another skeleton, but this time it was much large towering 7-feet. This model also included a Styrofoam flesh which was then covered in molding clay and weighed five-hundred pounds. The final Ford model was then shipped to Chicago for its bronze outer layer.
The final statue was unveiled on May 3, but the artist is not done. Grill is starting two new projects that will be presented in July. One of these projects is a duplicate of the Ford statue and will be dedicated to the Ford Museum in Michigan. The other project is a seven foot statue of Jay Van Andel, the co-owner of Amway and friend of Gerald Ford, and will be presented to the Grand Valley State University School of business.