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Industrial art conference returns to Granite City
Granite City

Industrial art conference returns to Granite City

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It'll be pouring in Granite City but instead of creating puddles, those taking part in the annual Iron Pour Conference will create art.

It's the third year that the conference is being held in Granite City. It will start Oct. 17 and runs until Oct. 20. In addition to making art, participants and visitors to the conference and the city's downtown area will see art exhibits and a sample iron pouring.

According to organizers Noah Kirby and Alison Ouellette Kirby of Six Mile Sculpture Works, the event pairs the city's industrial past with artistic ambitions.

"People can actually see it and be close to it," Noah Kirby, who also teaches sculpture at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. "Everybody's coming together to help their art work."

Iron pour sculptures are produced using smaller scale examples of technology commonly used by Granite City's steel and heavy industrial companies. While many may be familiar with bronze sculpting methods such as the lost-wax-cast method, iron pour work is a twist on tradition, Noah Kirby said.

"Iron casting is a real simple technology in a lot of ways," he said. "But the artists being into it is more of a Midwestern thing."

Artists began using iron pour techniques and technology in the 1960s and 1970s, he explained, and now "it's spread all over the country."

The presence of one of the pioneers in field, Thomas Gipe, professor emeritus at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, will be a highlight of this year's conference. He will give a lecture at the Granite City Cinema.

The four-day conference begins with a mold-making, pattern-making and design session at America's Central Port on First Street. The session is open to those who pay the conference's $65 registration fee. The fee covers the cost of materials needed to make the sculptures: 100 pounds of iron and 200 pounds of sand, the Kirbys said.

The following day includes more mold-making and, for conference registrants, a tour of Amsted Rail, a steel foundry and other industrial facilities. 

Oct. 19 will include a lecture by Gipe, exhibits and performances . The events will take place across from the Granite City Cinema on Niedringhaus Avenue. 

The artists taking part will bring creations to life Oct. 20 when the conference begins its production pour — pouring iron to create participants' works of art.

One event visitors won't want to miss is the performance iron pour when molten iron will be poured for all to see downtown on Oct. 19. The pour that will take place around nightfall.

"It's generally pretty exciting," Noah Kirby said.

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