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Iron Tribe Art Exhibit Returns to HU

Iron Tribe Exhibit

Photo: Margaret McKinney/Highlands University
David Habicht’s iron sculpture of the Dalai Lama is part of the Iron Tribe Exhibit at Highlands University through March 9.

Las Vegas, N.M. – New Mexico Highlands University presents Iron Tribe, a contemporary iron art exhibit featuring local, national and international artists, Feb. 18 - March 9. Other public iron art events are scheduled for March 7 – 9.

The Iron Tribe exhibit is in the university’s Burris Hall Gallery, 903 National Ave.

Fine arts professor David Lobdell established Iron Tribe, a biannual Highlands event now in its seventh year. This semester, his Exhibit Design – Iron Tribe class is organizing the exhibit and the other iron art events.

Lobdell is an internationally known iron artist and a leader in the iron art movement in the U.S. In 2008, he was the founding president of the Western Cast Iron Art Alliance, and currently serves on the board.

“The work of more than 40 professional iron artists is included in the Iron Tribe exhibit,” Lobdell said. “What I like about this show is that there’s so much diversity in aesthetic in one medium. The pieces range from conceptual to industrial. There will also be large-scale photographs and videography that depict the passion of iron casting.”

International artists featured in this year’s Iron Tribe exhibit hale from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Estonia and Canada. Stateside, artists from California to New York are showing work in the exhibit.  

Nationally known New Mexico sculptors Eddie Dominguez and Donna Jean Jawrunner also have pieces in the exhibit. The show also features three outstanding sculptors who graduated from Highlands in fine arts.

“We have our share of talent at Highlands, and Aaron Juarros, Lance Wadlow, Matt Eaton, and Isaac Sandoval exemplify that. All these graduates are following their dreams and are successful artists,” Lobdell said.

Juarros earned his MFA from the Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland, Eaton earned his MFA from Georgia State University in Atlanta, and Lance Wadlow earned his MFA from Ft. Hays State University in Ft. Hays, Kan. Sandoval will complete his MFA at Ft. Hays State in May.

Lobdell said one highlight of the Iron Tribe exhibit is an iron bust sculpture of the Dalai Lama by David Habicht, cofounder of Shotwing Studio near Kalamazoo, Mich. The portrait sculptor met with the Dalai Lama before creating the sculpture, and has also sculpted portraits of Desmond Tutu, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, John Updike, and more.

Lobdell said Iron Tribe offers the university’s fine arts students a chance to meet and work with both veterans and rising artists in the iron art movement. It’s also a chance for the public to learn more about iron art.

He said the March 7 performance-casting session will be spectacular.

“Performance casting is a dramatic spectacle where you show liquid fire and the magic of physics,” Lobdell said. “Performance casting is an industrial dance of movement and fire, with music.”  

All the March Iron Tribe events are free and open to the public:   

Performance Casting Session,March 7, from 5 - 8 p.m. in the parking lot across the street from the university’s art foundry, at 914 11th St. A blast furnace will be used to melt scrap iron that will be poured into molds.

Iron Art Symposium,March 8, from 2 - 4 p.m., in the university’s historic Ilfeld Auditorium, 900 University Ave. Guest speakers include Wesley Jacobs, who operates the Bullpen Foundry for iron artists in Abingdon, Oxfordshire County, southern England. He is participating in Iron Tribe as a Winston Churchill Fellow; Donald Keen, lifelong owner/operator of an iron foundry in Houston that works with iron artists; Allison Ouellette-Kirby, from Six Mile Sculpture Works in St. Louis; and Isaac Sandoval, Ft. Hays State University.

Iron Tribe Exhibit Closing Reception, March 8, from 4 - 6 p.m., Burris Hall Gallery. Local restaurants are donating food for the reception.

Production CastingSession, March 9, from 9 a.m. until completion, at the Highlands University art foundry.

For more information about Iron Tribe, contact Lobdell at 505-454-3570 or

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