Art Students Test Their Metal
A pumpkin. A Converse sneaker. A spool of thread.
These were some of the items that Hartwick students cast in aluminum during an immersive weekend metal casting workshop at Salem (NY) Art Works. The workshop, led by Professor of Art in Practice Leah Frankel and Professor of Education Betsey Bloom, was funded by FlightPath.
“Art is really fun when you get to play around with different mediums,” said Makenzie Zwick ’25, an art history major who also attended the workshop last year. “Not many people can say they’ve cast molten metal!”
Students worked alongside professional artists to learn the technical aspects of metal casting. On Friday, they built two-part sand molds, then helped run the aluminum pour on Saturday afternoon.
“I didn’t know metal casting was a thing you could do,” said Megan Bryla ’26, an art major who primarily uses oil paints and pastels. “It was such a great opportunity for us to expand our horizons.”
“This trip was a great experience for art making,” said Frankel. “And it was also about becoming familiar with different opportunities in the field of art after graduation.”
Last year, the students worked in bronze; this year, they worked in aluminum, recycling scrap metal from a nearby company. “I was one of the people tasked with melting it down,” said Zwick. “It was bits and pieces of bars and manufactured waste, then you take all the impurities off the top.”
Students then poured the molten metal into their molds. Bryla did a series – an apple, a banana and a pumpkin – while Zwick cast a spool of thread. Zwick noted her piece was a thank you gift for her mentor at the Foreman Gallery, Gallery and Exhibitions Coordinator Sydney Sheehan, with whom Zwick worked while putting together its “Between/Us” exhibit.
“It was a real pleasure to watch these young people engage with professional artists to produce an original piece of art,” said Bloom. “Being at the sculpture park gave the students an opportunity to envision one version of their future selves.”