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.”