‘Perpetual’ students design sculpture for Edgewater senior center


Students taking professor Wilfredo Valladares’ new Outdoor Public Art class will build a sculpture to display at the South County Senior Center.

Dominic Salacki, Reporter

Seven student artists will build a personalized structure for an Edgewater senior center as part of a new sculpture class.

The Outdoor Public Art course, or ART 292,  started Feb. 7 with a meeting between the students and professor Wilfredo Valladares to discuss ideas for a sculpture for the front of the South County Senior Center. This semester’s students will start the project and the fall semester cohort will finish it, said Valladares, who also advises the student Sculpture Club.

“What is important is that students are collaborating in experiential learning,” Valladares said. “That is something that is very important, in terms of learning, because the students are actually implementing techniques and processes in the real field.”

Art students from prior semesters created metal sculptures of a horse and a rooster, which are located on the parking lot side of the Humanities building.

According to Rob Muir, one of a number of “perpetual students” who frequently enroll in art classes, this new course had two components: collaboration among students from concept to installation, and interactions with clients, which helps them learn about the business of selling art.

“If you intend to sell your sculptures to a community, a town or a county, you have to know how to do that,” Muir said. “Who do you talk to? What information do you need? What information do you give? That type of thing.”

Muir’s classmate and fellow perpetual student Rosalie Dunn proposed this art collaboration between AACC and Anne Arundel County. Her husband attends classes at the South County Senior Center.

“How about a project that we can all work on, whether we get our hands into it, or we have ideas?” Dunn said. “Can we somehow anchor this time and space [at the senior center], where we’ve been going through COVID? [A project] that anchors that, and we can do it, but something that also includes the individual’s histories.”

 According to Dunn, the senior center’s patrons include World War II veterans.

The sculpture the students create will answer questions like: “What things brought us to this point?” Dunn said. “And something that also includes an element of hope for the future, that the future will be even better.”

She added: “We could incorporate all this into some kind of sculpture because there are many ways to contribute, and we have a lot of talent and creativity.”

Dunn said she noticed that the senior center has the space for a sculpture, so she discussed her idea with the facility’s director.

 “The director of the senior center said, ‘Fine,’ so then I spoke to [Valladares], and he took off with it, and that’s how [this collaboration between AACC and the surrounding county] began,” Dunn said.

 Dunn retired from the National Institutes of Health in 2006 and has been a perpetual student at AACC ever since.

 “I love being a perpetual student,” Dunn said. “Perpetual means forever.”

Classmate Elaine Weiner-Reed said working on the project with other student artists is exciting.

“As you get older, people become invisible,” perpetual student Weiner-Reed said. “Beneath the aging masks that we wear, there are vital lives that still matter and should not be ignored.”