Student artist reflects “The Growing Mind” with library sculpture

Photo of Megan Dooley-Smallwood with her sculpture

"The Growing Mind," a large sculpture now on display outside the Dunbar Library, was created by senior art major Megan Dooley-Smallwood

From the roots of knowledge comes a wave of understanding.

That’s the concept of The Growing Mind, a large sculpture currently on display near the entrance to the Dunbar Library. It was created by senior art major Megan Dooley-Smallwood for a class in expanded media.

“I just felt like our campus environment craves art,” said Dooley-Smallwood.

The project took several weeks from conception to completion. Before she even began creating the piece, Dooley-Smallwood had to get approval from both the University Libraries and Facilities Planning and Development. Next, she refined her design through several sketches and small-scale models. The final product was designed to be quite tall.

“The more I work, the larger my work gets, which is great because there aren’t many large-scale sculptures in this area,” she said.

For practicality and transportation, the sculpture was designed in two pieces: a plaster base resembling the roots of a tree and steel framework with hand-dyed fabric petals.

Photo of Megan Dooley-Smallwood sewing on the petals of her sculpture.

Dooley-Smallwood spend more then nine hours hand-sewing the fabric petals to the steel frame.

Welding the frame took her three weeks—“Welding gives me so much joy”—while more than nine hours were spent hand-sewing the fabric petals to the frame. Dooley-Smallwood gives credit for the petals’ pink and purple colors to her three-year-old daughter, Samantha, to whom the sculpture is dedicated.

The name of the piece, The Growing Mind, was a reaction to both the ivy that grows on the library walls and to Dooley-Smallwood’s evolution as an artist over the course of her education.

“It’s about relating the organic growth around us to the internal growth of our minds as we learn,” she said.

The Growing Mind will remain on display until mid-June, after Dooley-Smallwood’s graduation from Wright State. The artist hopes to establish her own studio in the area and continue working as a sculptor.

“For me, art is based on the amount of yourself that you invest in your work,” she said. “Anything that comes from within you—that you’re passionate about—is art.”

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