BELLE FOURCHE –– Belle Fourche sculptor Travis Sorenson won his third Best of Show II award in the 16th SculptureWalk Sioux Falls, nabbing himself the certification of Virtuoso Sculptor in the exhibit.
Sorenson began work on “Cimarron,” a 36-by-24-inch stainless steel bighorn sheep sculpture in September. The 150-pound piece is located on Phillips Street between 10th and 11th streets. The SculptureWalk is an exhibit of outdoor sculptures displayed year-round in downtown Sioux Falls. Featured artists place their sculptures in the program for one year, and all sculptures are promoted to the public for sale.
Sorenson’s sculpture, installed in May, was one of nine selected as Best of Show II, winning him a $1,000 prize.
Of the 58 sculptures at this year’s SculptureWalk, Sorenson was among four who have achieved SculptureWalk “Virtuoso Sculptor” certification, an honor reserved for artists who’ve won three Best of Show awards.
“That’s kind of where the hours and hours of polishing and cleaning, detailing, the little things come into play,” he said. “It’s kind of what makes it worth it.”
At the SculptureWalk, sculptor’s work are judged by peers in the exibit for artistic merit and creativity.
“It’s kind of a cool way to win because then you know you’ve got the respect of your peers, and they think you do a decent job,” Sorenson said.
He said he worked on Cimarron for 475 hours over the winter to prepare for the SculptureWalk.
The animal’s horns were especially tricky, Sorenson said.
“They look very simple, but between all the angles (and) trying to get it just right, it was do and redo, do and redo,” he said.
Sorenson regularly utilizes recycled materials in his works of art including washers, nuts, old cage wire, horseshoe nails, hot, rolled round rod, pipe, bike chains, chrome ball bearings, and spent metal punch plugs.
“Stainless steel is harder, messier to work with,” he said. “Everything bends a little bit harder.”
Sorenson hides a dragonfly in all of his large sculptures to add a bit of personal flair. It’s his signature move. He wouldn’t share where Cimarron’s dragonfly is hidden, adding that if people want to see it, they’ve got to go visit the sculpture in Sioux Falls.
In June, a sculpture depicting a dragonfly resting atop cattails and sprigs of grass took home the second-place People’s Choice award.
Sorenson has taken home people’s choice awards at that show for three years in a row.
Much of Sorenson’s inspiration derives from nature.
“Like bighorn sheep, they’re such a powerful, yet agile-type creature,” Sorenson said. “And I see that, and sometimes it’s like a puzzle, trying to put it together.”
A handful of Sorenson’s sculptures are featured around the country, including in Mankato, Minn.
Seeing the finished product, after many hundreds of hours of work, is the reward for Sorenson.
“When it starts to come together, and it starts to come to life, you kind of get that feeling of, ‘Hey, wow, this is actually working,’” he said. “It’s cool to see the reactions from the people if they like it. The oohs and ahhs (make it all worth it).”
More information and photos of his work can be found at his website, Sorensonmetalworks.com.
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