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Driftwood art: Dent resident Dick DuBord brings art and education to students

Dick DuBord's piece "Howling at the Moon" sits in the front right of the exhibit. It's comprised of two pieces of driftwood he spotted at Long Lost Lake near Itasca State Park. He instantly spotted the eye and snout on one piece, and the tail and legs on another.

Dick DuBord's piece "Howling at the Moon" sits in the front right of the exhibit. It's comprised of two pieces of driftwood he spotted at Long Lost Lake near Itasca State Park. He instantly spotted the eye and snout on one piece, and the tail and legs on another.

An open reception was held on September 23 for artist Dick DuBord, who has been sculpting wood since 1965. The 20-piece collection was well received by the large number of guests present that day - over a hundred K-12 students, led by teacher Terry Oscarson of the Henning Public School System.

"I had many wonderful comments from my students," said Oscarson. "It's a lot more fun when the artist is there to educate them," she said. This is the first show for students this year.

"I'm so blessed to be the sole person in the art department and to have the students see this. It's so much fun hearing their stories," she said.

DuBord furthered, "Art exposure is so important to children. The role of the Lakes Regional Arts Council is to enhance and make possible arts and exhibits in rural Minnesota."

Oscarson has taken trips with her students to Costa Rica to study culture, with the intent of heading back in 2013. She provides a rich experience for the children in Henning, and has had students move on deep into the art world.

She noted that some of her students have gone on to become film editors, cake decorators, graphic designers, an art educator, and several others related to the field. She has been a teacher since 1974, and had moved to the Art program in 2005.

Students who are in their final year put on their own art show at the Landmark Center. They exhibit their work in May, while school is still in session. This June, seniors will have their work on display at an all-school reunion, noted Oscarson.

The importance of education and educating is familiar to DuBord, as he served as a faculty member at the Minnesota State University at Moorhead for 27 years.

While he was a professor at the university, he had the option to sit in on classes, provided they didn't displace any students.

His first art class was the "first time I had a course totally devoted to concepts on sculpture. My professor was a very dedicated man, and a very dedicated teacher. As a real benefit, he worked on various types of woods."

"I'm having so much fun showcasing and teaching children here in Henning. Art has added so much beauty and wonder to my life."

Beginning Stages

DuBord first began his wood sculptures in 1965 while he was working with an anti-poverty program on an Indian reservation a few miles from the Canadian border and halfway between Minnesota and Montana.

He picked up a book on wood carving and began speaking with a Shop teacher at a local area high school. He became self-educated during the 60's and 70's after he was out of graduate school and read numerous books a year on sculpture.

He achieved his Master's in Social Work (MSW) and went on to earn his Ph.D., all the while "cultivating an advocation for art" he said.

"All the years spent whittling and chipping away. I'm not getting any younger now and I'm dedicating my time to sculpture," he furthered.

DuBord has produced over sixty pieces of artwork throughout the years, some of which has been lost or sold.

Although his wood sculptures may appear to be stained, it is the aging of the natural oils in the wood that mellow over the years and give the pieces such wonderful color.

Over 10 years he held onto a piece of badland cedar wood and would revisit it every now and then, as he was beginning to raise a child.

One of his pieces, "Giraffe" was made in 1975 out of walnut. It was one of his first, as his daughter was old enough to begin gaining interest.

The oldest piece in the show goes back to the early 1970's. One of the pieces, "Howling at the Moon" is comprised of two pieces of driftwood found at Long Lost Lake near Itasca Park.

"I think the most exciting part is having a concept and getting a rough shape. Sometimes I see natural art in wood with the knots and bumps," he said.

Every aspect of the process is beautiful to him. Using wood as a medium, the smells, the dust, taste, even the chips made both by hand and power tools which bring out the shapes and textures.

On every hike through the forest or walk along the sea shore, he keeps an eye out for pieces with particular potential. "I let grain, knots, crevices and bumps shape the design. Sometimes I see something immediately - other times, it defies me for years."

Vibrant Places

DuBord served on the board of the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, and now sits on the board of the Lakes Region Arts Council.

He now lives on McDonald Lake near the town of Dent. He complimented Otter Tail County as being "astoundingly beautiful".

"Some days I wake up and think of how lucky I am to be in such a wonderful and beautiful place and environment," he said.

"Small rural communities have a lot going on. They are very vibrant places for art."

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