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Pro­fessor Anthony Fru­dakis sculpted Socrates for a com­pe­tition. Courtesy | Ashley Kaitz

If you walk down to the sculpture studio, you might hear it before you see it. Pro­fessor Anthony Fru­dakis, asso­ciate pro­fessor of art, likes to play music during his classes. 

“I find music relaxing and very inspiring,” he said. “In the morning, it’s kind of Apol­lonian, with the classics by Mozart and Beethoven. In the afternoon I go with Southern rock. I have Sculpture II, III, and IV in the afternoon and I figured they could handle it.”

Fru­dakis, who has been teaching at Hillsdale since 1991, grew up in a family of artists. 

“My father was a sculptor, and my mom painted,” he said. “It was a lot of fun. I thought it was amusing that my friends would come over and be shocked by the nude statues.” 

Fru­dakis said his parents dis­couraged him from pur­suing an artistic career. 

“They wanted a more secure pro­fession for me, some­thing more stable finan­cially,” he said. 

Although he grew up making small sculp­tures alongside his father, Fru­dakis really dis­covered his passion for the art form in college.

“I took a class in sculpture at Duke Uni­versity, where I was an undergrad,” he said. “I was thinking I might go into law, but my genetics had some­thing else in mind.”

According to Fru­dakis, his first com­mis­sioned piece resulted from a com­pe­tition that he won to sculpt his high school mascot — a Viking. 

“I’ve had to compete for a lot of my com­mis­sions,” he said. “By that point I’d been out of high school for about five or six years.”

Although he often finds inspi­ration from pho­tographs and paintings, Fru­dakis prefers to work from life, so he con­vinced his father to pose for the statue. 

“He made a good Viking,” Fru­dakis said. 

Fru­dakis com­peted for another com­mission that Hillsdale stu­dents might know about. His statue of Socrates in Mossey Library is actually a small model of a life-size statue that he made for the city of Astoria, New York. Astoria is home to a large Greek com­munity, who held a com­pe­tition to choose the sculptor for a statue of Socrates. Fru­dakis decided to enter.

In fact, when Fru­dakis moved to Hillsdale in 1991 to begin teaching, he hadn’t heard the result of the com­pe­tition yet. 

“When we moved here, I still hadn’t won, and I was a little worried about it,” he said. 

“Then during my first week here I’m in class and I hear this knock on the door of my studio. And I look over and it’s a fellow from the com­munity. He’d heard that there was a new sculptor and he thought he’d come and say hello.”

Fru­dakis said he had an epiphany during their con­ver­sation.

“We’re talking and sud­denly the light goes on. I thought ‘My God, this guy looks like Socrates!’ I had never in my whole life seen anybody that really looked like Socrates. And here I come to this little place and bump into him.” 

The two struck up a friendship, and when Fru­dakis won the com­pe­tition with his design, the man agreed to pose for the statue. 

“I was very grateful that he was willing to help with the project,” Fru­dakis said. 

Cur­rently, Fru­dakis is working on two life-sized com­mis­sioned sculp­tures. 

“I’m doing some­thing for the college. It’s a secret,” he said. 

His other project was com­mis­sioned by a psy­chol­ogist. 

“She has spent part of her life caring for parents who have lost their children. She does a lot of grief coun­seling work, and it’s really been her calling,” Fru­dakis said. “So this statue is of a mother and child, and the mother is reading a book. It’s a mon­ument to her life’s work.”

Of all the sculp­tures he has created over the years, Fru­dakis said he doesn’t have a favorite. 

“It’s like asking you who your favorite child is,” he said. “Each one is such a unique expe­rience that you remember it in terms of the context of the expe­rience, more than as a fin­ished product.”

Over the course of his career, Fru­dakis has pro­duced not only sculp­tures but quite a few sculptors as well.

Junior Melody McDonald, who took Sculpture I and II with Fru­dakis, said that his classes are dif­ferent from any others she’s taken at Hillsdale. 

“He’ll ran­domly pull out life advice,” she said. “He wants to be more than just a pro­fessor — he wants to be a mentor. He will go out of his way to help people, which is pretty fan­tastic.”

McDonald said that her favorite moments with Fru­dakis are the dis­cus­sions they have before she starts a sculpture. 

“We’ll have philo­sophical talks about art and the interplay between order and chaos,” McDonald said. “He brings so much under­standing of art that I don’t have yet. He helps me pull together my ideas and actually portray some­thing.”

Isaac Dell ’18 said Fru­dakis inspired him to pursue a career in sculpture.

Dell planned to study physics when he came to Hillsdale, with the goal of becoming an engineer. During the fall of his sophomore year, he decided to take Sculpture I with Fru­dakis. He was hooked. 

“I’ve lost count, but I think I took 11 sculpture classes with him,” Dell said. “I got to spend a lot of time with him. Seeing the joy that he found in cre­ating def­i­nitely inspired me to keep taking his classes.” 

Dell said that Fru­dakis taught him not only how to sculpt but also how to see the world as an artist. 

“Fru­dakis gave me an appre­ci­ation for beauty and taught me to look for beau­tiful shapes and forms,” Dell said. “That really is the essence of sculpture — to be able to look, and truly see.”