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Paw Paw Sculptor
Has His Work on
WMU's Campus
 

By Paul Garrod

PAW PAW - A Paw Paw artist views his latest work of art as "an extension of what I teach at Western" (Michigan University).
 
 Al LaVergne's latest composition fabricated in steel, "The Committee," will be unveiled on WMU's campus today (Friday) during a 4 p.m. ceremony.
  Serving as coordinator of tlie sculpture program at WMU, where he's been employed for the past decade, LaVergne has been working as a metal fabricator for the past 25 years.
  Thee sculpture, which took 16 months to complete, weighs approximately 4,000 to 6,000 pounds, and measures 11 feet tall and 16 feet long.
  "I worked on it during weekends and summer breaks," he said.
The fabricated steel in places measures one-quarter inch or larger in thickness.
  LaVergne said he spent several hours on each hand and toe of the four over life-size figures in an acrobatic configuration.
  The project was based from a model, LaVergne said, "It (the sculpture), was like a puzzle. It's designed to be viewed from above."

 

  "As I evolved in the piece, I allowed it to change," he said, as he worked with industrial pipes, welding and grinding them off.
  Growing up in Louisiana, LaVergne said he and his siblings used to build dolls and things, "to amuse ourselves. We couldn't afford toys."
  His work in fabricated steel can be traced back to his early youth when he visited a blacksmith's shop.
  " It was fascinating to watch metal change forms," said LaVergne.
  The work was tlie last piece commissioned by former WMU President Diether Haenicke.
It also marked the first major commissioned work in Michigan for LaVergne.
  He has several other commissioned works in Louisiana.
  " I'm really honored it's going next to the Haenicke Building," he said.
  " It was an investigation both in process and human anatomy. The piece addresses the conflict between human limitations and spiritual expectations. The struggle to achieve and maintain physical balance develops a spiritual harmony," said LaVergne.

 

ON THE MOVE - A sculpture, "The Committee" designed by 'aw Paw, is carefully placed on a flatbed truck on to Western Michigan University this week, on permanent display.