HUNTERSVILLE – Truth be told, Rich Nossel doesn’t consider himself an artist. Members of the Cornelius Arts Center and the Parks, Arts, Recreation and Culture Department think otherwise.
People will be able to judge for themselves starting June 13 at Robbins Park in Cornelius. Nossel, who makes sculptures by welding metal into new creations, is one of nine artists chosen to display their work through Nov. 17 during Cornelius’ first public art exhibition, “Beyond Walls.”
His piece, “Jitterbug,” features a woman dancing made from metal washers welded together.
“The selection panel was impressed by Nossel’s unique aesthetic approach and dynamic composition,” Cornelius Arts Center Director Jen Crickenberger said. “His piece was an important addition to the show because it is the only figurative piece represented in Beyond Walls. ‘Jitterbug’ prompts viewers to reflect on their own form and the beauty of dance.”
He spent more than 20 hours on the creation, Nossel said, but couldn’t do too much at one time because of the heat.
He used forms as a guide to give the piece its shape. By doing each body part individually as he works, Nossel can bend and mold the work to show the action he wants, from dancing, to riding a bicycle to playing tennis.
“You don’t have to be exact,” Nossel said of why he likes working with metal compared to other mediums. “It’s as abstract as you want to be. When I go out to shows like Myrtle Beach, I can take stuff and just throw it in the back of my pickup. There is no worry about damage or water.”
He commonly goes to scrap metal yards and begins envisioning a recycled use though, Nossel said, he never knows what the finished product will be. Sheets of metal become fireplace screens and plain circles can be turned into flower petals.
Living in Davidson before moving to Huntersville, Nossel said he started making metal objects because it was too hot to grow anything in his yard. The former furniture maker made copper plants that moved with the breeze.
He has new collections of American flags and Celtic crosses he’s made from stainless steel with brass and copper designs.
“To me, artists draw or paint. Sculptors are artists,” he said of why he doesn't think of himself as an artist. “I synthesize different components to make something.”
His recent creations are fairly small, but his favorite pieces are larger-than-life. One has three metal hawks circling overhead. Another is a windmill, made from a bike wheel, rims, an exhaust stack from an 18-wheeler truck, propellers and an old sign. As the wind blows the piece spins and turns. At one time, he said his yard was filled with windmills.
“I try anything that’s interesting,” he said, adding he also does commission pieces. “It’s therapeutic to cut metal and hit it with a hammer. You can’t think about anything else. You have to clear your head and stop internal dialogue.”
His work has been displayed in Huntersville, at Davidson’s Art on the Green and in galleries in Mooresville and Charlotte. His shows are limited to only a handful a year since he still works as a graphic artist. To view his other metal creations, go to 704Design.com.
Robbins Park to host public art exhibit
Cornelius features its first public arts exhibition, "Beyond Walls," June 13- Nov. 17 at Robbins Park, 17738 W. Catawba Ave. Nine regional artists were chosen to participate, including Paris Alexander, Bob Doster, Jim Gallucci, Aisling Millar McDonald, Harry McDaniel, Rich Nossel, Virginia Scotchie, Adam Walls and Jim Weitzel.
An opening reception is scheduled 3-6 p.m., June 13. It includes food trucks, a wine reception, kids' crafts, live music and a look at each of the creations. Opening remarks and artists talks begin at 3:30 p.m.