Winning entry by Richard Colby '16 in Cooperstown’s Hyde Hall's 2017 Art Contest.

Hartwick’s Colby ’16 Wins Hyde Hall Art Exhibition Grand Prize

August 2, 2017

To celebrate its 200th anniversary, Cooperstown’s Hyde Hall invited artists to participate in an open exhibition. One work of art would be selected for display throughout the year, and earn the artist a $500 cash award.

At the opening reception on Sunday, July 23 held at Hyde Hall’s Kent Center, Richard Colby ’16 was announced as the grand prize winner for his interpretation of his concept of Hyde Hall. Colby’s winning entry was a sculpture of a bird from the Clarke family crest.

Colby’s sculpture was constructed almost entirely from hand cut sheet metal bent to shape, welded together, then spray painted metallic blue, the color of the liver bird on the coat of arms. His style, which he calls Steel Void Art and has been developing since his first sculpture class at Hartwick, involves creating the illusion of a solid body figure using a hollow design or void/negative space.

As a sculptor, Colby was restricted to finding subject matter that could take a solid, recognizable form while clearly representing Hyde Hall. Painters, for example, could easily rely on any view of the hall, either its landscape or architecture, but these can’t be composed into a relatable sculpture.

To develop his entry, he researched Hyde Hall, eventually finding a webpage devoted to the Clarke Family Coat of Arms. He then spent more than two weeks designing the three-dimensional piece, focusing predominately on a liver bird in the upper right corner of the crest. He spent almost two months constructing it, constantly reevaluating the sculpture structurally, and allowing its design to grow and change as he worked.

Colby’s piece is also not one for a curio cabinet or mantle: it stands more than six feet tall at the head, with the highest point of its wings reaching 7’6”. It measures 8’4” long from the end of its beak to the tip of its tail feathers, and its wingspan is 10’2”.

“This is easily the largest sculpture I have created thus far,” he said.

In the short time since he graduated, Colby has made a concerted effort to be active in the local art world. He found out about the Hyde Hall contest through the Cooperstown Art Association, one of many art associations and galleries in the Cooperstown area he has joined.

He has also quickly found success.

Along with the Hyde Hall recognition, one of his works recently took an “Award of Merit” at the Cooperstown Art Association’s 82nd Annual Juried Art Exhibition, as well as “Best in Show” at the Hartwick’s own Juried Student Art Exhibition. That piece is now on display at the Association until August 18.

Located within Glimmerglass State Park on Otsego Lake, Hyde Hall is a neoclassical country mansion designed by architect Philip Hooker for George Clarke, a wealthy English landowner. When built, it was the largest private home in the United States. Constructed between 1817 and 1834, Hyde Hall was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

For more information on this year’s Hyde Hall art competition, visit its website.

To view or purchase Colby’s work, visit his online store.