The ceramics foundry on The University of Alabama campus is the hottest place to be most days as UA faculty and students use fire to sculpt and cast various works of art.
For Craig Wedderspoon, professor of sculpture at UA, the foundry is a second home where he not only molds countless masterpieces, but influences future generations of artists by helping them hone their craft.
Wedderspoon started his career as a glass and crystal carver in 1985 in Miami. Three years later, he became vice president of Architectural Art Glass, Inc. and worked extensively throughout the United States and Caribbean Islands specializing in large scale design, construction and installation of carved glass systems.
In 1990, Wedderspoon ventured out on his own and created Cwozmar Creative Glass Design. He served as the company’s owner and president until disaster struck south Florida in August 1992 when Hurricane Andrew destroyed a large portion of the region, including Cwozmar Creative Glass Design.
“After Hurricane Andrew, I decided to return to school to study sculpture,” said Wedderspoon. “I felt like it was a great opportunity to not only learn more about the art, but also work on my skills.”
Wedderspoon earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Florida International University in 1997 and Master of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1999.
In the fall of 1999, Wedderspoon joined UA’s department of art and art history as a temporary instructor. He became a full-time art faculty member the following year and has taught all levels of undergraduate and graduate sculpture and three-dimensional design during his career at the Capstone.
Wedderspoon has won several teaching awards during his time at the University, including the UA National Alumni Association Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award and UA College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Commitment to Students Award.
Outside the classroom, Wedderspoon has been part of numerous large-scale design projects that can be seen across campus and the state. In collaboration with local artist Caleb O’Connor, Wedderspoon has been part of producing statues of former UA President Robert E. Witt, which stands in Presidential Village, and baseball legend Willie Mays, located outside Regions Field in Birmingham.
Wedderspoon and O’Connor are currently collaborating on several projects celebrating the bicentennials of the city of Tuscaloosa and state of Alabama, both of which take place this year. In the Druid City, Wedderspoon is creating a timeline that will run 110 feet along Manderson Landing and depict the Black Warrior River accompanied by monumental dates in the city’s history. The timeline will lead to a sculpture of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, which was sculpted by O’Connor.
“Everything came down to the river for me because we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the river,” said Wedderspoon. “When you look back at Tuscaloosa’s history, early settlers followed Native American trails that led to this area because it’s where you could cross the river. The Black Warrior River has also played a tremendous role in transportation and the economy.”
Wedderspoon hopes the timeline will set the atmosphere of the bicentennial area by serving as an opportunity to remember the past while pushing for a prosperous future.
“It’s always an honor to work on something that will hopefully last a very long time,” said Wedderspoon. “I was humbled and privileged to be asked to work on such a landmark project.”