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Artist Bruce Larsen Inducted into Alabama Center for the Arts Hall of Fame

“Nastia the Gymnast” is one of the Bruce Larsen sculptures featured on the grounds of the United States Sports Academy. The sculpture represents former United States gold medal gymnast Nastia Liukin. Photo: USSA

United States Sports Academy 2009 Sport Artist of the Year Bruce Larsen has been honored as a member of the inaugural class of the Alabama Center for the Arts Hall of Fame.

Larsen, of Fairhope, Ala., is a world renowned sculptor and special effects artist whose works can be found in the homes of the rich and famous around the world, in museums, on movie sets for Hollywood films and on the campus of the Academy.

Larsen is best known for his sculptures reflecting the “Found Object” art movement and depicting famous athletes and animals created from recycled objects, steel, machine parts, industrial materials and more. His works have been collected by the likes of former President Bill Clinton, singer Robert Plant, and actor Mark Ruffalo, as well as royalty and heads of state around the world.

Bruce Larsen. Photo: USSA

Larsen was inducted along with eight other visionary artists from the state of Alabama for the Hall of Fame located in Decatur, Ala. The other inductees are dancer Wes Chapman, photographer Tillman Crane, musician Emmylou Harris, mixed media artist Nall Hollis, the late actor Dean Jones, the quilters of Gee’s Bend, the late painter Mildred Nungester Wolfe, and the late painter Richard Zoellner, an instructor at the University of Alabama for 33 years.

“This was a great honor and a real surprise, especially to be part of the inaugural class,” Larsen said. “It is definitely a feather in the cap and something that I did not expect. I don’t know how I got on with so many great artists, but I’m honored to be part of it.

“It was kind of surreal to have my art right next to the work of the Gee’s Bend quilters,” Larsen said. “They are some of the most humble, quiet, and hardworking artists around. They exemplify humility and hard work. It’s a great honor to be mentioned in the same breath as the other artists.”

The Hall of Fame was established earlier this year at the Alabama Center for the Arts, a collaborative effort between Athens State University, Calhoun Community College, the City of Decatur and Morgan County.  The center is used for college art instruction, community education and arts events.

Larsen contributed a seven-foot-tall giraffe and 11 smaller pieces to an art show at the center, which was founded in 2012 and serves as a “statewide catalyst for artistic education and appreciation, while also promoting a culture of creativity throughout Alabama.”

“Borzov the Sprinter” is one of nine Bruce Larsen sculptures featured on the grounds of the United States Sports Academy. The sculpture represents Ukrainian sprinter Valeriy Borzov, an Olympic gold medalist and former president of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine. Photo: USSA

His work can also be seen in other locations around Decatur, including a dragonfly sculpture in the Riverwild Playground and Garden for All Children, as well as the “Heron Great Tree Gateway,” which forms the main entrance to Riverwild.

Larsen’s art can also be seen in numerous Hollywood film productions, including the upcoming Stephen King adaptation,“Gerald’s Game,” directed by Mike Flanagan and filmed in both Mobile and Fairhope.

“I just finished filming a couple of movies, including the Stephen King adaptation ‘Gerald’s Game,’” Larsen said. “It was probably the best film I’ve had the privilege to work on. Just a great crew, from the top to the bottom. The director, Mike Flanagan, is just fantastic. The crew was killer, no pun intended.”

Larsen also worked on the horror film “Oculus” with Flanagan, creating the mirror that is a focal point in the film, which was shot in Fairhope. Larsen appears in the film as a ghostly figure under a sheet. He also designed and created the monster for Flanagan’s film, “Before I Wake,” which was also filmed in Fairhope.

The Academy’s American Sport Art Museum & Archives (ASAMA) is home to several large Larsen sculptures representing some of the world’s most famous athletes including gymnast Nastia Liukin, swimmer Mark Spitz, sprinter Valeriy Borzov and basketball player Michael Jordan.

Founded in 1984, ASAMA is dedicated to the preservation of sports art, history, and literature. The ASAMA collection is composed of nearly 2,000 works of sport art across a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, assemblages, prints and photographs. The museum is open free to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. For more information, go to www.asama.org.

Based in Daphne, Ala., the United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call (251) 626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.

By Eric Mann

Eric Mann is the communications assistant at the United States Sports Academy. Reach him at emann@ussa.edu

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