Tuesday February 4, 2014

Artist and Teacher

A new exhibit in the University of Dayton's Roesch Library will celebrate the life and work of sculptor Robert C. Koepnick.

A new exhibit in the University of Dayton's Roesch Library will celebrate the life and work of Robert C. Koepnick, an artist and teacher whose work is highly visible throughout the entire Dayton community.

The upcoming exhibit, "Art for Citizens and Celebrants: The Sculpture of Robert C. Koepnick," will be on display March 16 through Sept. 7 in the Roesch Library Gallery. It is free and open to the public.

Koepnick enriched the Dayton area with his sculptures, including the cast aluminum reliefs on the gates of the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, a relief on the Dayton Metro Library, and a bronze of Huckleberry Finn in the permanent collection of the Dayton Art Institute. His sculptures have been on exhibit in museums across the U.S., including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Art Institute of Chicago.

He was a well-known Dayton sculptor and headed the sculpture department at the Dayton Art Institute from 1936-1975, which hosted the University of Dayton's art program during this time. 

As a teacher, he affected many people, including Virginia Hess, a student and longtime friend of Koepnick. "Bob touched so many lives," she said. "He wasn't just a great artist; he was also an extraordinary human being. He was extremely knowledgeable, patient, kind, gentle and compassionate. I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for his positive influence and example."

The University archives are inviting submissions of personal stories and remembrances from students, colleagues, friends or family to be included in the exhibit. To submit remembrances visit the related link to the exhibit website. 

Koepnick used a variety of media in his sculptures including terra cotta, ceramics, bronze, aluminum and metal. He is famous for his ecclesiastical sculptures, including architectural reliefs and free-standing statues, some of which will be shown in the exhibit.

The exhibit will feature the artist's sketches, models and finished works, as well as photographs and documents from Koepnick's papers, which were donated to the University of Dayton Archives after his death in 1995. 

The University Libraries will host various public programs to highlight themes within the exhibit:

  • Opening event for "Art for Citizens and Celebrants," 2-4 p.m. Sunday, March 23. Includes brief remarks from exhibit curators Steve Germann and Pamela Houk. Free and open to the public.
  • "Koepnick's Marian Heritage." March 5 through May 3 in the Marian Library Gallery.
  • Wednesday Workshop at ArtStreet: Sculpture demonstration by his son, John Koepnick, and Hess. 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, at ArtStreet Studio E. Free and open to the public.
  • Reception for Dayton Art Institute Alumni and local artists, 2-4 p.m. Sunday, June 1.

Koepnick was born in Dayton in 1907. He studied sculpture at the School of the Dayton Art Institute and subsequently became the head of its sculpture department, a position he held for almost 40 years. During World War II, Koepnick worked as a sculptor for the Aeromedical Laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, where he used his talents to design personal equipment for the Army Air Corps. 

Koepnick received awards from both the Dayton Art Institute and the University of Dayton for his success and achievements. 

For information on the exhibit and to submit remembrances visit the exhibit website here. 

For more information, contact Cilla Shindell, director of media relations, at 937-229-3257 or shindell@udayton.edu.