Andy Schumann considers himself a birder.
He also has a knack for sculpting and welding.
Itâs that combination that inspired âAvian Steel,â an exhibit that was to open Wednesday, Feb. 11, at Concordia University Wisconsinâs Center for Environmental Stewardship featuring 29 works from the Fredonia resident.
âBirds are my passion and my main interest for sculpture,â Schumann, a Concordia graduate, said. âI thought this would be a unique collection.â
Schumannâs works include several bronze and welded steel birds, including birds native to the Mississippi Flyway like a bald eagle, blue heron, brown pelican and green heron.
The flyway is an integral part of the environmental centerâs focus, Bruce Bessert, director of the Center for Environmental Stewardship said.
âWe look at all different facets of environmentalism. Thereâs more than just science to what we do. There is a human element. From that aspect, weâre happy to have Andyâs exhibits here. His focus on avian art is phenomenal.â
The flyway encompasses a large area, Bessert said, and Lake Michigan is a major corridor for it.
Schumann said there are more than 250 species of birds that traverse the flyway, which he calls âan endless source of inspiration.â
He has lived in the area for the last three decades and said he approached the university about a year ago with the exhibit idea.
Since then, he has created some original works and has obtained some of his older works to use in the exhibit.
The collection includes a kestrel, the first bronze bird he created.
âI donât really focus on one favorite piece,â Schumann said. âI get really into the piece Iâm working on and then move on to the next one.â
His pieces take anywhere from a week to six months to create.
He said he gets his inspiration by being out in nature and observing birds.
âIâve lived in different parts of the country and have observed lots of different birds in different environments,â Schumann said.
He enjoys the anatomy of birds and often draws inspiration from seeing a bird flying or simply sitting still.
âI love their movements and all the different colors,â he said.
Bessert said Schumann understands the connection between the environment and art.
âHe shows our students and the community that there is a connection,â Bessert said.
Schumannâs artwork isnât limited to birds.
He sculpted the bronze fisherman in Port Washingtonâs Rotary Park. He is also working on a statue of Martin Luther that will end up at Concordia.
His largest creation is a 25-foot Native American spear fisherman that is on display in Marysville, Wash.
Schumann earned his bachelorâs degree in humanities and education with an art minor from Concordia in 1989.
Schumann has received a number of awards, including âBest of Showâ at the Ward World Championship, the Greater Milwaukee Woodcarving Championship and Ducks Unlimited Championship.
For Schumann, part of the reason for the exhibit is giving back to the school where he got his start.
âI know some of the professors there and they remember me,â he said. âI try to keep a relationship there to some degree.â
The exhibit will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Sunday, Feb. 22.
An opening reception will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14.
Concordia is at 12800 N. Lake Shore Dr. in Mequon.
For more information on the exhibit, call (262) 243-4555.
Image information: FREDONIA SCULPTOR Andy Schumann gazed at his bronze replica of a bald eagle on a branch. Schumannâs other works include The Fisherman statue at Rotary Park in Port Washington.
Photo by Sam Arendt