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Brandon Irish ‘07 has sculpted public memo­rials and other sculp­tures, and said he aims to capture God’s beauty and truth in his work. Brandon Irish | Courtesy

When Brandon Irish ’07 acci­den­tally knocked over a statue in Pro­fessor of Art Tony Fru­dakis’ studio as a freshman, he col­lided with the world of sculpting.

According to Irish, he was studying music at the time and was only taking Fru­dakis’ class at the sug­gestion of his older brother. While he was working on a por­trait after hours one night, Irish backed into a plaster cast of a young girl resting on Fru­dakis’ desk.

“I’ll never forget feeling it wobble on the desk behind me and then turning to see it falling,” Irish said. “Tony was vis­iting a foundry in New York when it hap­pened, and I had to wait an entire week for him to get back before I could tell him. The first chance I had, I went up to him to confess that I had broken it.”

Before he had spoken more than few words, Irish recalled, Fru­dakis called him out for his mistake. Irish offered to do whatever it would take to make it right. Fru­dakis rebuked him calmly and empathized with the freshman.

“I remember that feeling,” Irish recalls Fru­dakis saying. “I broke one of my father’s statues once.”

Since this unlikely intro­duction to the trade, Irish has been laboring to master the art of sculpting. He first achieved success at Hillsdale College by helping Fru­dakis put embell­ish­ments on the Liberty Walk’s Abraham Lincoln statue.

“I was amazed at how facile he was — how quickly he learned and caught on to what was going on,” Fru­dakis said. “He was one of the best assis­tants I’ve had work for me.”

Since grad­u­ating Hillsdale, Irish has moved to New York, where he lives with his family and con­tinues to enjoy artistic success. Right now, he is working on a project to com­mem­orate the victims of the 2015 Paris ter­rorist attacks which will stand on one of the sites where the attacks occurred.

Irish said his mon­ument will resemble the Statue of Liberty, sym­bol­izing the love to which he believes all men are called in the gospels.

“My depiction of liberty presses in further to explore the step beyond, to under­stand the spirit behind the law fun­da­men­tally rec­og­nized by selfless love for fellow man and true broth­erhood.” he said. “This com­pas­sionate spirit, the guiding moti­vation behind our law, is the con­sci­en­tious, respon­sible exercise of freedom in a way that regards, even prefers, the welfare of others, ensuring liberty for all. The greater a society’s moral code, the more fully it can realize freedom.”

Irish has also become part of acclaimed sculptor Sabin Howard’s team com­mis­sioned to design the forth­coming World War I Vet­erans Memorial in Wash­ington, D. C.

“The memorial is not only about the inter­con­nect­edness of humanity, but the inter­con­nect­edness of time and how our mem­ories of history live on in each and every one us and have a tremendous impact on the future,” Howard said in his 2016 pro­posal for the memorial.

In addition to using the lessons Fru­dakis pro­vided him, Irish said he looks up to Howard as one of his role models both in his clas­sical style and his vision for art.

“He’s really ter­rific. I’ve admired him a long time — actually since I was a student,” Irish said.

Right now though, Irish works out of his home-based studio where he lives with his wife and three children.

“It can be a little crazy at times, but the nice thing is that it allows me to work every spare minute that I can, while also being available when the family needs me,” he said.

He works on secular projects, but Irish said his art is deeply grounded in faith and the idea that every human being has been called by God to serve others by becoming excellent in some capacity during his or her lifetime. According to Irish, sculpting — and all visual art — allows him to say true things about the world that could not be put into words.

“I draw a tremendous amount of inspi­ration from the math and science of the human body, espe­cially where these design ele­ments are con­sistent with those found else­where in nature,” he said. “I am always fas­ci­nated at the way the infi­nitely cre­ative mind of God chose to order things. I love the pat­terns and rhythms of his hand­iwork.”

For Irish, finding God’s truth in beauty is a goal toward which an artist should always strive, even if he will not reach it in his lifetime

“An artist never really arrives. He is always learning, always dis­cov­ering, always expecting a beau­tiful sur­prise,” he said. “Art, as in life, is more about the process of growth than the arrival of old age. A lis­tening ear and clear inten­tion­ality in the present moment are the two most important qual­ities to have in any vocation and in every stage of life.”

Irish said he works with  a sense of purpose so that in the future, his work will inspire the kingdom of God on Earth.

“I hope that a thousand years from now, long after this artist has been for­gotten, a work of his will still inspire the children of God to love bigger and live better,” he said.