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Industrial Rust Belt Technology Used to Make Art

“We’ve kind of merged the past and the present,” Collins said. “We’re bringing together these two different eras and helping people engage with this really rich industrial history which is a real mark of the culture here.”


West Virginia University Art Professor, Dylan Collins has been dedicated to an older technology as of late: Iron Casting.

It takes quite a crew to get a coke-filled furnace up to temperature to melt iron, but once it reaches 2,000 degrees, these artists work for hours filling sand molds with beautiful, orange-glowing, molten iron. When the casts cool, it’s like Christmas morning breaking off the sand of each mold revealing the dark leaden sculpture inside.

Credit courtesy of Dylan Collins
Dylan Collins looks on at 2014 Iron Pour at WVU.



Dylan Collins grew up in a world of art--his mother, brothers, and father all played a hand. The encouragement and support he knew growing up when it came to pursuing artistic endeavors, he said, is what enabled him to have the confidence to succeed.

"I knew I wanted to be an artist right around the time of high school,” Collins said. He got a bachelor’s degree, then a masters, then became a master of fine arts before he wound up an assistant professor of art at West Virginia University where he still chases his fancy into professional excellence.

Collins stressed the important roles critical thinking and creativity play in imagining and creating art, but excellence requires multifaceted skill belts.

Collins regularly calls on math and science skills. “If I didn’t have good math skills, there’d be no way I could create sculptures,” he said. Whether it’s capable carpentry skills or a practical understanding of fundamental earth science concepts--it all helps him in the process of bringing his visions to life.

And he’s not alone. Collins explains, Art is everywhere.

Every object in the world,” Collins said, “requires the hand of an artist.”

He also said there are ever-increasing roles technologies play in the realm of fine arts. “If you really want to follow art,” Collins said, “you need to constantly stoke excitement about things like science, technology, and engineering.” 

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