Surls commissioned to create sculpture for LU quadrangle

Artist James Surls in his studio

Texas native and artist James Surls has been commissioned to create Lamar University’s newest art addition to bring inspiration and beauty to the campus.

“Everyone can be inspired by art,” said Kim Steinhagen, Public Art Committee co-chair. “It is one of those things that enriches our lives the more we are exposed to it, and it beautifies the campus. We love the landscaping on campus, and art is just another part of that.”

Surls is a nature-inspired modernist artist known for his carved sculptures, and bronze and steel works. He graduated from Sam Houston State Teachers College (now Sam Houston State University) and received his MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art. His work has been featured in many galleries around the world, including the Guggenheim in New York, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.

Surls made a personal trip to Beaumont to create his design.

“He designed a piece for us that he felt would look good in the space. He really liked the quad; he liked the trees, the outdoor feel and the natural look of it and so we picked a spot right outside the Lucas Engineering Building. Once he saw the space, he came back with a drawing,” said Steinhagen.

The sculpture is being specially created for Lamar in signature Surls style.


“It will be stainless steel with bronze flowers and including the eye images, that imitate bark on aspen trees in Colorado, where Surls currently lives,” said Steinhagen. “He wants it to look like it is growing out of the ground. The landscapers will build a berm that Surls will line with hand-selected river rocks.