LSU Vet School puts the focus on animals

Wild at Art

Memories of a family vacation are melded into the bronze.

They breathe life into Andrea Wilkinson’s sculpture, “A Kodiak Moment,” and make those who see it laugh.

For here sits a massive Kodiak bear ready for his close up. He poses in front of a 35 millimeter camera fastened atop a tripod, but the only evidence of a photographer is a lone hat on the ground.

The Houston artist created a smaller version of the sculpture in polymer clay a few years ago and gave it to her father, who inspired it.

She later crafted a larger version in bronze, which was chosen as one of 75 pieces for the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine’s “27th annual International Exhibition on Animals in Art.”

The show opens with a reception from 6-8 p.m. Saturday in the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine Library and runs through April 27.

“Animals in Art” features works in all media with animals as the main subject. Everything is for sale with proceeds from the entry fees and 20 percent of the sales benefitting the library.

This year’s juror was Jordana Pomeroy, executive director of the LSU Museum of Art, who whittled 383 entries to 75.

One piece will receive a $1,000 Best of Show award, and one entry will be chosen to appear on the cover of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Winners also will be chosen for the Judge’s Awards and Honorable Mentions and People’s Choice Award.

And this year, Wilkinson’s work finally made the cut.

“I’d submitted a piece some years ago, but it wasn’t chosen for the show,” Wilkinson says. “I’m so excited that ‘A Kodiak Moment’ was chosen this year.”

Her piece has its origins in a family vacation in the late 1950s. Wilkinson’s father was a doctor by profession, but a photographer at heart.

“He loved to take photographs, and every year, he’d pile us in the car and drive us across the nation on a summer vacation,” Wilkinson says. “He’d take photographs along the way.”

But that summer, a prospective photo subject came looking for him.

“We went to Yellowstone National Park, and we stayed in a hotel called the Yellowstone Hotel,” Wilkinson says. “It’s probably no longer there now, but it was inside the park, and as we were unloading our bags and bringing them inside the hotel room, we turned around and saw a bear in the doorway. He was half in the room and half out, and he was just standing there looking at us.”

The family froze. The bear scanned the room, then turned and walked away.

“My dad didn’t have his camera in his hand,” Wilkinson says, laughing. “If he had, he would have taken a picture.”

So, she’s captured the picture for him in bronze.

Wilkinson’s work shows in galleries in Houston, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Scottsdale, Ariz.

“I didn’t start out as an artist,” she says. “I studied zoology in college and worked as a docent at the zoo. I used to paint for pleasure, but I didn’t get serious about art until I took some sculpture workshops and learned about a foundry that would cast my sculptures.”

“A Kodiak Moment” is only one story in this show. There are many others waiting to be discovered in the vet school library.