Standing on the ground level of the Jerry and Kay Jennett Lecture Hall foyer, Dr. Ronald M. Zaccari looks up at the stainless steel and aluminum piece of art hanging on the wall to the right of the entryway. He smiles a smile that reaches all of the way to his eyes.
Then he begins sharing secrets about the half-ton sculpture that the Jennetts hired him to create. His enthusiasm is infectious, making everyone near him feel like anything is possible.
The sculpture, â€œWoman with a Multi-colored Hat,â€ measures 13 feet by 8 feet and is the largest undertaking of Zaccariâ€™s career. It features high-quality automotive paint â€” a first for the artist â€” and highlights a female profile composed of three levels of mirror-finish stainless steel; the highly polished surfaces provide a dramatic contrast to the colorful components of shapes and forms, he said.
It is both reminiscent of Pablo Picasso and whimsical, almost Seussical, in nature, an ideal piece for inspiring the future educators studying in the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education next door.
â€œPeople know Iâ€™m a big fan of Cubism, an art period dominated by the works of Picasso, Braque, and Matisse,â€ said the multi-media artist known primarily for his three-dimensional steel images and Valdosta State Universityâ€™s seventh president, serving from 2002 to 2008. â€œThe use of multiple profiles is a recurring Picasso theme.â€
The process of installing the sculpture began early on the morning of July 16, 2012, and concluded the following afternoon. It involved nearly a dozen people, including steel and electricity experts, and required a lift system, a lot of muscle power, and an attention to detail.
When the frame was in place, Kay Jennett said, â€œItâ€™s perfect. I have dreamed about this.â€
The Jennetts were inspired to commission one of Zaccariâ€™s sculptures for the facility named in honor of their longtime commitment to the university after they visited his one-person show at the Annette Howell Turner Center of the Arts in June of 2011.
Seeing a smaller sculpture that appealed to them, they approached Zaccari with an idea.
â€œFrom that point on, the creative juices began to flow in new directions â€” especially the combination of stainless steel, aluminum, and the application of high-quality automotive paints â€” to build a colorful, whimsical sculpture,â€ he said. â€œI developed three small working models, 9 inches by 6 inches, for the Jennetts, and they immediately selected the images, forms, and colors for the piece to be installed. That was the easy part. The challenges began to accumulate. How do I hang a half-ton sculpture onÂ the foyer wall? How do I duplicate computer-generated color for such a large metal sculpture? Thatâ€™s when the talented people at Voigtâ€™s Sheet Metal Works Inc. came to the rescue. They were able to solve all issues with developing the sculpture and installing it at the selected site. I asked for assistance from Thomas Collision Center, a company well known for quality automotive painting. The 14 colors were matched with only a 15 percent differential to accuracy of the original computer model colors.â€
â€œFor me, the sculpture has pushed new explorations and will open yet other avenues of research, drawings, shapes, and forms â€” all leading to new outcomes in a never-ending cycle of creativity,â€ said Zaccari, who, because he is always searching, always trying new things, always pushing himself outside his comfort zone artistically, was led to use automotive paints in his latest design. â€œIsnâ€™t that what a university is all about? That is my message to future generations who will view the sculpture.â€