by Jeff Dodge for Colorado State University College of Liberal Arts Magazine
The colorful new 30-foot-high sculpture emerging from a water feature at the new U.S. Embassy building in The Hague was created by an alumnus of Colorado State University’s Department of Art and Art History who says the honor of being commissioned for the project holds great meaning for him personally.
“I’ve never served in the armed forces, so that’s just about the closest thing I’ve done to serving my country,” says Pard Morrison. “As small as it is, it makes me proud, and it makes me happy.”
Pard Morrison, who graduated from CSU with a B.A. in fine arts with a concentration in sculpture in 1997, created “Ghost on the Shore” for the embassy after being discovered by Virginia Shore, chief curator of the Art in Embassies Program at the U.S. Department of State. Shore saw an image of one of Morrison’s installations at the Denver Botanical Gardens. That piece was only eight feet tall, and when she gave Morrison the dimensions for the sculpture she wanted to commission, he had to do some math before realizing how much taller the new one would have to be.
“When she sent me the specs, they were in meters, so I had to some calculations,” Morrison recalls with a laugh. “It was definitely a big deal. In the art world, you never know what’s going to happen.”
The new sculpture is three and a half feet wide and made of fired pigment on aluminum. Morrison, who lives in Colorado Springs, said fabrication took about four months, and then the piece was driven by truck to Los Angeles, where it was crated and flown to the Netherlands.
Morrison’s work is exhibited in galleries in Santa Fe, San Francisco, and New Orleans, and has been shown around the world. He credits much of his success to CSU Professor Gary Voss.
“He definitely encouraged me and helped lead me down this path,” Morrison says. “I can’t thank him enough.”
He also benefited from having a core group of very talented artists as classmates.
“We had a great bunch of motivated students,” Morrison remembers. “We started our own gallery in Old Town. On a scale of 1 to 10, everyone was a 12.”
He says he still considers most of them dear friends, which has been meaningful.
“Being in that group raised the bar for all of us to do the best we could, and it created a sense of community both at CSU and in Fort Collins,” Morrison says. “We could pat each other on the back and root each other on. At that age, you don’t really know what you’re doing, so it was a great support system.”
Morrison is only one of two artists to have their work displayed at the new embassy building.
“I’m really excited about it, really proud,” he says. “I’m happy with how it turned out.”
Morrison says he gets inspiration from trying to create something beautiful for the world, something that will resonate with other people long after he’s gone.
“You’re always trying to strike a chord in other humans,” he explains. “You’re looking to make connections, and that can be a rare thing these days.”
Learn more about the Department of Art and Art History.