With the eyes and hands of a sculptor, Associate Professor of Art Anthony Frudakis calls art “a reflection of the divine in us.”
“To be inspired you have to have a receptivity. And to have a receptivity, you have to have humility. You enter into it, saying, ‘I am open.’ ” Frudakis said, explaining how to begin a piece of sculpture.
To Frudakis, Hillsdale’s sculpture professor of twenty-two years, sculpting is a personal and intrinsic experience. Learning to sculpt at a young age with his father, a sculpture teacher in Philadelphia, Frudakis accompanied his father to his classes and sculpted miniature cats and fish. During summers, his father gave him a small block of stone so he could sculpt alongside him.
As years passed and Frudakis attended high school, he grew preoccupied by sports and academics. He rediscovered his love for sculpting in college at Duke University while taking a sculpture class on a whim.
“Without considering things in a purely rational manner,” said Frudakis, “I decided to pursue sculpting in earnest.”
He left college after one year and returned home to study sculpting with his father.
After a few years of gaining experience and compiling a portfolio, he attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and later earned his masters degree at the University of Pennsylvania.
Frudakis attributes his teaching career to his father’s systematic approach to sculpting and teaching. After learning how to sculpt according to a procedure, he found it simple to teach as well. After just two years of sculpting, Frudakis began instructing students of his own.
His friend, Michael Poliakoff, taught classics here at Hillsdale and called Frudakis when a sculpture professor position appeared.
“The opportunity came at just the right time,” said Frudakis.
Frudakis said he enjoys observing his students and their innate styles.
“I am sharing information that they can use to give an enhanced expression to their voice,” he said.
Frudakis’ students appreciate his unique teaching style.
“He gets to know you and your method of art. He uses a lot of demonstration,” said junior Elizabeth Brady.
Junior Alexandria MacGowen, who is double-majoring in chemistry and biology, values the balance Frudakis’ sculpting class has added to her workload. “I think working in the art department has helped me become a better scientist. A lot of time in class is spent looking at just a small part of the model’s face, like the curve of the nose or the angles of the eye socket, and then attempting to copy that onto the piece of work. Science is all about observation,” MacGowen said.
The tactile nature of sculpting has long captivated Frudakis. Attributing his love for sculpting to his Greek heritage, he has sought to incorporate the Greeks’ sense of aesthetics and understanding of geometry into more contemporary concepts.
Finding “art an actualization of knowledge,” sophomore Forester McClatchey said. He went on to describe what he has learned from Frudakis’ sculpture class.
“You have to have an eye for both architectural and human aspects to see the shapes and see the life,” he said.
To Frudakis, sculpting is a spiritual experience.
“Artists are on a spiritual path. Soon that becomes the most important thing in their lives. Art becomes the vehicle to express the experience you’re having on the spiritual journey,” Frudakis said.
Gratefully acknowledging President Larry Arnn for the privilege of sculpting the various historical figures displayed on campus (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan), Frudakis noted that although not all commissions translate to his personal journey, he finds inspiration in the lives of the men he sculpts.
“I think truth, goodness and beauty, are reflections of the divine and as I see it in nature, I am inspired to bring that into my work,” said Frudakis. “Works can be reminders of the divine. And that is my hope, that people can look at a piece and find a moment of stillness — that the busy mind will find a moment of peace and pause.”