International Iron Tribe Exhibit Showcases Contemporary Cast Iron Art


Photo Courtesy of Wayne Potratz
Wayne Potratz, with his cast iron and cast bronze piece The Last Turtlewain, is one of the featured artists in the Iron Tribe iron art sculpture exhibit the Department of Fine Arts at Highlands presents through March 3. Potratz is also the Visiting Ballen Scholar at Highlands Feb. 15 – March 1.

Las Vegas, N.M. – Leading international and American contemporary iron artists are featured in a sculpture exhibit that is part of the Iron Tribe 2017 event at Highlands University.

The Iron Tribe exhibit is in the university’s Burris Hall Gallery, 903 National Ave., though March 3, with a closing reception that day from 4 – 6 p.m.

“This show is worthy of an exhibition in any gallery or museum in the world for its innovation, craftsmanship, and collective vision,” said fine arts professor David Lobdell, who founded the biennial Iron Tribe art event in 2001. “Artistically, this exhibit is very eclectic, but the common thread is iron and fire. It includes well established and up-and-coming artists.”

The international iron artists hail from Germany, Wales, Estonia, Japan and Poland. The American artists are across the U.S. including states like New York, California, Florida, Michigan, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Montana.

Lobdell said an exciting addition to Iron Tribe this year is internationally acclaimed iron artist Wayne Potratz, who will be a Visiting Ballen Scholar on the Highlands University campus Feb. 15 – March 1.

Potratz is a fine arts professor emeritus from the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis. He has exhibited his work and conducted research in Asia, Europe and the Americas.

“Wayne Potratz is the world leader of the contemporary iron art community dating back to the 1980s,” said Lobdell, who is also a leader in the international iron art movement. “Wayne’s work is about our relationship with nature and the spiritual revelations that individuals get from interacting with nature. For instance, one of his pieces depicts a human paddling a canoe through a peaceful lake with a turtle swimming at the bow.”

Lobdell said that Potratz’ iron artwork sometimes evokes Native American and Japanese mythology. Potratz is also known for using a traditional Japanese tatara furnace to smelt iron for some of his pieces.

“Firing a tatara furnace, which separates impurities from the iron, is in itself an art form reflective of human cultural activities. Potratz will be building a tatara furnace in our Highlands’ art foundry,” Lobdell said.

The public schedule for Potratz includes:
February 21 – Reception for Potratz in Ilfeld Auditorium from 4:30 – 6 p.m. followed by a lecture from 6 – 7 p.m. Ilfeld is at 900 University Ave.
February 24 – Potratz will demonstrate firing of his tatara furnace from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. at the Highlands art foundry, 914 11th St.

Potratz will present lectures at Highlands for fine arts students as well as cross-disciplinary lectures for science and humanities students. He will also meet with faculty.

“Our Highlands fine arts students will learn how to manage fire and earth elements from Wayne Potratz, which transfers from iron art sculpting to many other art disciplines like ceramics, jewelry making and blacksmithing,” Lobdell said.

Iron Tribe includes the art exhibit as well as an iron art symposium March 3, performance iron pour March 2, and a production casting session for the campus and community March 4.