The Arkansas Arts Council is pleased to announce and recognize Michael Warwick as the 2020 Arkansas Living Treasure for his work and dedication to the craft of metalworking.
"Creating and teaching are very important to me," Warrick said. "I have made it a personal goal to help others learn and create through the craft of metalworking. In my own creative metawork, it is my hope that I can bring elements of our humanity and history through the craft."
Warwick, who teaches at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, has been shown locally and internationally. His work was shown in a solo touring exhibition in 1996 that appeared in the Strause Gallery of the Arkansas Arts Center. A recent sample of Warwick's work sits in front of the main entrance to the new Windgate Art + Design building at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.
Warwick's work has appeared in exhibitions and public installations locally and worldwide. He regularlyl does commission work, including a piece he created in 2017 for the Little Rock Sister City Commission to give to the City of Hanam in South Korea. A video about that project is available via UALRTV. Warwick also is finishing up an 18-foot orange tree sculpture, complete with gold leaf, that will be delivered to California.
Warwick has studied his craft for more than 20 years. He started learning metalworking in 1967, when he took an industrial arts class in high school that included welding. He became a certified welder in 1972 and worked on large-scale mining equipment trucks, industrial fixtures and railroad cars.
He attended Illinois State University as an art student in 1976. There, he learned metal casting and sculpting, and as a graduate student, he learned to work with cast iron. By 1995, he had picked up the technique of ceramic shell casting, which allowed him to cast finer and thinner bronze works.
Warwick is constantly learning, experimenting and evolving. In 2015, he learned 3D printing with polylactc acid plastic (PLA) and used the new technology in tandem with traditional lost wax casting for his metalwork. The resulting large-scale 21-by-15-by-15-foot sculpture sits today outside the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. The sculpture is a fascinating mix of stainless steel, bronze, glass and concrete that celebrates the Louisiana Purchase.
"I am a firm believer that there is much value to learning traditional methods for creating in cast metal," Warwick said. "I am also curious about contemporary techniques in the production of objects and how they might be enhanced by joining old and new techniques."
Warwick is committed to maintaining and advancing his craft through mentoring, teaching, lecturing, demonstrating and building through teamwork. Since joining UALR in the fall of 1990, Warwick has been instrumental in securing grants, including one to build a foundry and kilns for the metal casting for the university. Another grant allowed him to bring in renowned lecturers in metalworking. He also sat on a committee that brought public sculptures to the university to "embellish the culturally rich environment."