Michael Jordan came in one day and began signing in and even started talking to Art... there was no response. So Michael went over to the management and he said, I dont know what this guys problem is. I tried to be nice to him, I tried to talk to him and hes just sitting there. The guys a jerk. I just wanted you to know, artist Marc Sijan said in a 2002 interview for the Milwaukee Catholic Herald.
What Jordan didnt know was that Art was literally his namesake: hes a sculpture. Art is one of Sijans Ultra-Realistic sculptures modeled after a living human being.
CAUGHT OFF GUARD
This summer the Dennos Museum Center, on campus at Northwestern Michigan College, is hosting the second edition of an exhibit by Sijan that features 11 of his extremely life-like sculptures. Its been really popular so far.
Everyone of all ages [likes it]. It does catch people off-guard. Even some of the staff here cant get used to them. Its been a lot of fun, especially to watch the kids go up and touch them and understand that they are sculptures, says Kathleen Buday, curator of education and interpretation for Dennos Museum.
Buday also says that the sculptures are having the same effect on area visitors as they did on Mr. Jordan. One visitor did come in when we were setting it up so not everything was [displayed] and they see the people in their bathing suits out in the sculpture court and theyre like, Who is that? she says. It really intrigues people and just fascinates them that [artists] can actually do this with just paint and polyester resin.
The sculptures are so detailed, in fact, that it takes Sijan about six months to complete each one. He looks for all the imperfections in the skin - anything from goose-bumps, color, sunburn, birth marks and age spots - and works a plaster mold with special tools and a magnifying glass to make them match. The plaster mold is taken from an actual person who Sijan chooses to be the model for his sculpture.
25 COATS OF PAINT
After the plaster is completed Sijan casts the sculpture in polyester resin. Then he applies around 25 coats of paint, with a touch of varnish, in order to make the realistic flesh tones. After this, he uses oil paint for the final stages. The goal is to achieve depth, yet translucency. It cant be flat. The chest and throat texture is different from that of the arms, legs and stomach. Facial skin differs from that of the torso, Sijan says.
He takes his inspiration for the sculptures from Michelangelos David. Sijan was taken with the renaissance artists attention to detail and to anatomy. The human figure is one of the most challenging subjects to work with. I am working to develop a niche of my own where I can develop a believable figurative sculpture that works not only on a visual level, but on a deeper more emotional level, he says. Its interesting, this fascination. The human form is the oldest artistic subject - it was the first subject known to man. We just keep interpreting it, over and over.
Sijan began his study of the arts at the University of Wisconsin and graduated in 1968 and then completed his Master of Science in Arts degree three years later. After this period, he spent seven years teaching in Milwaukees public schools. During this time he would teach at the school and then work in his studio at night. He is now a full-time artist and spends upwards of 80 hours a week working in his studio. He has participated in over 40 one-person museum exhibits that have traveled all over North America.
His exhibits have been extremely popular in the past. According to Buday, Dennos Museum Curator Gene Jenneman came up with the idea of having the exhibit when he heard about how popular it was at a museum in St. Joseph, Michigan. I believe that he originally heard about it from St. Josephs museum. They had his exhibition a year or so ago and it was hugely popular, Buday says. She also says that the exhibit has been a nice change of pace for the museum. Every so often we like to have more fun type of exhibits like this. Its a lot of fun. Its a nice change for the summer because of the tourists that come through. Its not as heavy, she comments.
The sculpture exhibit runs through September 5 and museum hours are from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily and from 1 - 5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $4 for adults and $2 for children. For more information
visit www.dennosmuseum.org or call