Degrees of Fitness / Sporting Bodies

Opening Friday, October 8, 2021, Degrees of Fitness / Sporting Bodies is a new exhibit at The Stark Center, featuring the figurative sculptures of David L. Deming and Michael Deming.

David Deming is no stranger to the Forty Acres. His eight-foot-tall statue of football great Ricky Williams was unveiled in 2012. His life-size statue of Mike Myers adorns our track and soccer stadium. At the baseball stadium, Deming immortalized, in bronze, iconic coaches Cliff Gustafson and Billy Disch. And, in the lobby of the Stark Center, a bronze medallion that Deming made as a gift for Terry and Jan Todd to commemorate the opening of The Center hangs in a place of honor. 

Deming also knows UT because he spent 26 years in the Department of Art and Art History before becoming Dean of the College of Fine Arts. He left UT in 1998 and returned to his hometown, Cleveland, where, until 2010, he served as President of the Cleveland Institute of Art. Since then, Deming has devoted himself fully to his art. His works includes figural studies like the pieces in this exhibition, large scale outdoor abstractions found in parks and commercial settings, and quirky animal sculptures, made from scrap parts, that reveal his sly humor. With artworks in dozens of museums, he has become one of the most important contemporary sculptors working in America. 

Michael Deming, David’s son, has established himself as a prolific and versatile sculptor creating both representational figures and abstract sculptures of wood and metal. When a trophy was needed to celebrate the first Highland Games event at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio, Michael was tapped to create a bronze of Donald Dinnie. The piece was so exceptional that several years later, to commemorate the first strongwoman contest at the Arnold, Mike was commissioned to create the Katie Sandwina statue displayed here. 

Mike’s physical culture sculptures represent his deep interest in the beauty and power of the human body as athlete and body builder. His anatomical accuracy and attention to detail are remarkable, and we are proud to be the first museum to exhibit these pieces. Bodybuilders like to claim that what they do is an art form; that they are sculptors working with flesh. 

Michael has taken that flesh and made it immortal in bronze—and as true art.