This dolphin sculpture was created and donated to Miami University by the artist, an Ohio native, around 1993. It’s currently located in the lobby area of the Rec center. The artist attended Miami University 1967-1970, and donated the sculpture to express his gratitude for the beautiful memories from his time here. The glossy bronze dolphin appears to emerge from a rough, natural base. The appearance of a melding between finished bronze and natural stone is created through two processes: cold-cast bronze and cast marble. Cast marble is a combination of marble dust and a polyester casting resin, along with other additives for color. The resulting block is strong, relatively light, and suitable for carving and drilling. It can be polished to a high shine or left with a natural-looking roughness, as demonstrated in this sculpture. Cold-cast bronze is similar, consisting of a mixture of fine bronze powder with polyester casting resin, but the mixture is typically applied as the outer layer of a cast marble sculpture and then coated with a bronze lacquer. Despite the lacquer coating, bronze darkens in 3-5 years, explaining the deep brown color of this sculpture.
Foot Young (born Lynn Young) was born in Ohio only ten minutes away from Miami University. As a child on his parent’s farm, he learned some welding and carpentry and showed an interest in sculptural creations at an early age. He graduated from Seven Mile High School before studying math at Miami University for three years. At the end of his third year, he elected to leave Miami. The collegiate protests of the Vietnam War that ended in violence at Kent State University in 1970 left many feeling disillusioned, and Young was among that group. He built a motorcycle and headed south, where he lived nomadically for a year before starting a business in Key West, Florida. At 24, he sold his business and bought a sailboat, spending his time traveling. During this time, Young learned Scrimshaw, a traditional style art based around etching marine imagery or creating small sculptures of marine life out of natural material. He would sell these sculptures as he traveled. He also started using the name “Foot” in honor of his Native American roots around this time, and later legally changed it. At 29, Young moved to Australia and became friends with a real estate developer who was building a resort on Hamilton Island. He offered Young a workshop space on the resort on Hamilton Island. As Young transitioned from carving on a small yacht to working in a larger studio space, he shifted his focus from small scrimshaw pieces to larger sculptures.
Young’s sculptures are overwhelmingly marine themed, drawing on his artistic background in Scrimshaw, but most of his larger sculptures are done in cold-cast bronze or alloys or cold-cast marble and other stones. The process of casting marble is not new, but Young may be the first person to use it for sculpture. Like cold cast bronze, cold cast alloys are created with aluminum powder mixed with other metal powders and the polyester resin for a silver-colored product. He also does work in natural marble, and he uses clay as a sub-medium for cast bronze pieces. More recently in his career, he has done a few pieces exploring the human form, including a life-size sculpture of himself. He also combined his studies of the body with his marine themes in a mermaid sculpture.