FHSU donates sculpture to Sias International University

FHSU president and sculptor to help with installation

HAYS, KS -- To celebrate the fifth anniversary of Sias International University last year and its strategic partnership with Fort Hays State University, FHSU President Edward H. Hammond and Linda Ganstrom, associate professor of art at FHSU, will travel from Hays, Kansas, United States of America, to Xinzheng, Henan Province, People's Republic of China, to install a ceramic sculpture.

The sculpture, created specifically for Sias, comes from Ganstrom's "Deeply Rooted" series, a series of sculptures that emphasizes the connection between people and their environment. It will be unveiled Saturday, May 21, as part of Sias University's homecoming activities.

Ganstrom's life-size sculpture depicts two women standing side-by-side. Two students' faces -- one Asian, one Caucasian -- were cast in clay for the figures.

" The idea is that education brings people closer together and helps form friendships," Ganstrom said. "Those two Art Department students are friends because of Fort Hays, and I hope that we have friends in China because of our connection with Sias."

Ganstrom will travel with Jennifer Conner, Larned graduate; Jennifer Mettlen-Nolan, Sylvan Grove graduate; Andrew Nolan, St. Francis graduate; Kate Barnaby, Valley Center senior; and her husband, Sheldon Ganstrom.

While in China, they will visit several historical locations, including Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, the Banpo Neolithic Village and the Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Soldiers.

" All of the places we're going are ceramic sites! All of the tombs of Tang figures and houses and stuff it's right in the area where it was made," Ganstrom said. "A lot of it is still in the ground. They still have religious beliefs in their ancestors, so they don't go around digging up tombs."

Ganstrom's group will also tour several of the universities' art departments and visit Jingdezehen (ZHEENG-day-ZHIN), the porcelain capital of China. "They will show us how they process the clay, what the old kilns look like how they use their glazes. They throw little bitty pots and great big huge pots that can have a guy stand up inside of them. So we hope to see that and meet some of the contemporary artists there."

Hammond will travel with his delegation of Cindy Elliott, assistant provost for strategic partnerships and dean of distance learning; John O. Farmer III, president of the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association, and his spouse, Dianne Farmer; Jeffery Seibel, investment representative with Edward Jones investments; and Mary Sprenkel, Kansas Medical Society member services coordinator.

While in China, Hammond and his delegation will participate in Sias homecoming and graduation and visit the University of Baudoling, Zhengzhou University and Wenzhoug University. He will also speak at a conference and symposium on education in the People's Republic of China at Shenyang Normal University.

" Fort Hays State is pleased to honor Sias and our partnership with this gift by one of our best known artists," Hammond said. "Art as well as education crosses culture and borders."

During Sias' anniversary celebration last year, Hammond presented a drawing of Ganstrom's sculpture. The statue took almost a year to produce.

" The statue is something I wanted to do for the campus. It's a beautiful piece. I'm happy Linda did one for Sias as well as one of our own," Hammond said.

In between classes in the ceramics studio, Ganstrom and her students practice Chinese with instructional audio tapes. She said that she has also learned to sing along with some songs. "I just can't imagine going to a place where I can't communicate. I like to talk," said Ganstrom, laughing.

" I love Chinese art, especially Chinese ceramics and the terra cotta soldiers that I've been fascinated with ever since they were discovered in the '70s," Ganstrom said. "So, to have my sculptures, which are basically life-size figures with realistic faces that are similar to those soldiers and in the same proximity for a girl from a little tiny town in Kansas to think of her artwork in China is just nothing I ever would have dreamed of."

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