Neil Lawley, assistant professor of art at Missouri Western State University, works with his students Friday afternoon on a project called ‘The Square Dome’. It will be on display this summer at the Allied Art Council’s Sculpture Walk.

Sculpture classes at Missouri Western State University have been collaborating on a large metal structure over the course of the Fall and Spring semester.

The approximately 450-pound piece of art is called “The Square Dome” and is comprised of 60 individual squares made from scratch that have been welded together.

On Friday two students and Neil Lawley, an assistant professor and the director of sculpture at Western, got to put all four sides of the sculpture in place for the first time.

“We made some big design changes today,” Lawley said. “Visually it’s minor, but structurally, it’s a major difference from what we wanted to do originally. All the corners are all welded up now and it’s going to be moved as one unit. We’ve got a truck that can do it, and it eliminates several additional variables that we were trying to avoid. Like how to attach it in the field with it still being tamper-proof. Nobody’s going to tamper with this.”

The piece was accepted into Allied Arts Council’s Sculpture Walk this summer and since it’s a student project, the council waived the entrance fee.

Andrew Huffman, a senior at Western studying illustration, started working on the sculpture this spring and believes people will interact with it in multiple ways.

“You go to an art gallery and you know ‘hands off.’ You can only get so close to it,” he said. “This you can actually touch and they can go inside of it, look out the different windows and see the whole thing all the way around. It’s going to be painted bright yellow so it’ll definitely stick out, and you’ll be able to easily see it from far away.”

The piece will also be evaluated by judges during the professional exhibition, which Lawley said is a unique opportunity for students.

“Some of them have never been in a juried exhibition before,” he said. “So this is something that helps to engage with the community, it goes toward their own personal professional development, and it’s applied learning. There is a lot happening within this project and to see it come to fruition is really exciting.”

Nathan Ellgren can be reached at nathan.ellgren@knpn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @NPNowEllgren.