Nick Daniel finds passion in sculpture

Georgina Kuhlmann

When senior Nick Daniel’s hands aren’t covered in goop from the plaster gauze he uses in his art projects, they’re stinging from hot-glue burns or avoiding being shredded by the wires that line the bottom of his newest sculpture. It’s a sandswept structure that looks like it’s made from human bones, but in reality, it’s metal, plaster, leather, rope and “a lot of glue.”

“I was inspired to make the large skeleton by an old Twilight Zone episode,” Nick said. “[In the show] some astronauts got stranded on a planet that they had thought was lifeless, but later they found out that there was an entire civilization of [tiny] people there. So I started thinking about what you’d do if you were really tiny and in a desert with only bones to use [as building material.]’

While Nick works, he listens to music to set the mood of his piece.

“Music always inspires me,” Nick said. “If I’m not listening to music, there’s either something wrong, or I’m not allowed. I like any type of music, anything at all, but I’ve listened to a lot of alternative stuff [like] Wolfmother while making [the skeleton].”

Nick spent freshman and sophomore year in studio art before switching to sculpture in his junior year.

“I enjoy sculpture a lot more [than drawing] because it’s so hands-on,” Nick said. “Large 3-D things are easier for me to make than large 2-D things.”

When working in three dimensions, the materials an artist chooses can literally make or break a piece. After seeing far too many clay sculptures explode in the kiln, Nick prefers to work with air-drying plaster gauze. However, he still runs into problems.

“Sometimes things just don’t work out the way you planned,” Nick said. “You have an idea, but the materials you have aren’t right for that and you can’t get [anything else]. I love art, but it’s always frustrating.”

Nick’s sculptures and 2-D pieces have all scored exceptionally well in VASE, but he’s still hoping to improve his record when he enters for the last time.

“Everything I’ve entered has almost gotten a perfect score,” Nick said. “Two pieces were actually marked down from perfect for some miniscule flaw.”

For the 2015 competition, Nick will submit a stone sculpture that he completed late in junior year. It’s also the piece he’s most proud of.

“That was just my second sculpture, and I’d had no experience working with stones before,” Nick said. “I was really surprised that it turned out as nicely as it did.”

Nick isn’t planning to go to art school after he graduates, but he will never give it up completely.

“I might take an art course during college, but I don’t want to necessarily do it as a career,” Nick said. “But I’ll definitely incorporate art because I want to be an architect and interior designer.”

Several of Nick’s finished pieces are on display at his grandma’s house. His grandma encouraged his love of art when he was younger, and he’s very close to her.

“[My grandma] bought me so many art supplies when I was a kid,” Nick said. “Every time we went to Hobby Lobby, where she took art classes, she’d be like ‘do you need a sketchbook?’ I still have a ton of them that aren’t full, as well has a huge pile of colored pencils that she [has given] me over the years. She’s a really cool lady and I love her a lot. If it weren’t for her I wouldn’t be as into art, music or reading as I am now.”

For Nick, art is not just something personal, but also a way to influence other people.

“[To me] art means creating a world, a scene or an idea that will inspire others to create their own worlds and their own ideas,” he said.