Source: The Herald-Times
With limestone, there's no sanding or polishing; the mark of the chisel is evident. At this year's Indiana Limestone Symposium at Bybee Stone Co. in Ellettsville, the stone you will carve, the tools you will need and the workshops led by nationally recognized stone artists are included with registration.
Hammer, chisel, ancient stone — and sweat — come together to create sculptures.
"A bunch of sweaty women and men carving stone in a tiny little meadow," said Laura Bybee, describing one of her favorite aspects of the annual program.
Chisel and carve for a day or few weeks, depending on which sessions you choose. Beginners and experienced carvers are welcome, and kids age 10-17 will receive instruction tailored for them.
Master sculptors Amy Brier and Frank Young founded the Indiana Limestone Symposium in 1996, channeling the Greek tradition of gathering to learn and talk about a subject. Instructors will be constantly onsite to lend guidance.
Brier had been carving in Italy when she noticed a carving symposium. The sculptors received a stipend, a piazza was closed off, and quarry blocks were positioned to be carved. The finished works became property of the town. She began to plan.
"I came here for grad school and met Frank (Young), then director of the Bloomington Area Arts Council and a long time carver. I asked him why there was not such an event here, and he said 'Let's do it!'"
Young went to school with Will Bybee, president of Bybee Stone Co. Brier, while carving in the stone yard of New York City's Cathedral of St. John the Divine, had heard good things about Bybee. She knew to be successful, her stone carving workshops had to be somehow instructive.
"So our symposium is an educational event where one can learn and share skills, ideas and tools," she said.
Part of knowing how to carve is leaving enough stone until the final steps, where the forms are fixed in place and shadows are hollowed.
"It is a good feeling to know that the work will long outlast the carver. Much of what we know about ancient cultures comes from their stone work," Brier said. "I think of the carvers as the high-tech experts of their time."
Sculptor Dale Enochs has taught at the symposium (his sculptural work is featured at the Indianapolis airport) and enjoys the students' enthusiasm and curiosity.
"For those that are open to it, learning is a revelation, it is tactile, it is exciting."
And don't worry about a goof being carved in stone.
"Mistakes are ultimately beneficial, they cause one to pause and think and then find solutions. It is part of the creative process."
Bill Holladay is a serial return student, having missed one year only during the pandemic.
"This gathering of remarkable, talented artists from all over the country welcomed me, a rank beginner, patiently answered my rookie questions, and gave me tips, whether to keep me from doing something stupid or just to show me an easier way," he said.
Carver camaraderie keeps him coming back.
If you go
WHAT: Indiana Limestone Symposium
WHEN and WHERE: June 5-25, with workshops for one day or several weeks at Bybee Stone Co., 6293 Mathews Drive, Ellettsville
REGISTER: Registration is open. To register, and for schedule and class details, go to https://limestonesymposium.org/sessions/.