D'Jean Jawrunner releases the white birds signaling the beginning of the iron pour.
By this morning, the fires will have subsided. From beginners to the well-seasoned veterans, they are all planning to gather to see what shapes will emerge from the cooled iron. About 40 artists attended this year’s iron pour, said D’Jean Jawrunner, artist and art faculty at Mesalands Community College.
There have also been lots of local artists dropping by to greet old friends, share meals and kibbutz.
“Tucumcari makes the artists feel special when they come here. They’ll go into Lowe’s and someone will say, “‘You’re at the iron pour,’” Jawrunner said.
Among the artists who work from early morn to late into the night on their pieces to have them made into iron, there’s a special camaraderie, Jawrunner said.
There’s so much work to be done, the artists said. Between breaking up iron, drying and sifting sand that’s appropriate for molds, carving works from wax or wood to be put in ceramic or sand molds, it can’t be all done by one person, they said.
“You can’t do it without a team,” said Dana Chodzko, of Abiquiu who is an instructor at the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe. “It has to be a collaborative process.”
For Jerry Fowler of Cave Creek, Ariz., it was his fifth iron pour.
Fowler might be what is called a design-build, create-as-you-go artist. “There are a lot of artists who spend all year designing on paper what they’re going to do in a week,” said Fowler. “I just start working.”
What has attracted him each year is “the energy here that all the artists feed off of,” he said.
“It’s self-directed and there’s a freedom of expression,” he said.
Another artist Jason Khouri is spending his third session at the iron pour.
He heard about the iron pour from the International Sculpture Center. Khouri came to create pieces to add to his portfolio that will be part of his application to a school to work on his Masters of Fine Arts, he said.
“It becomes like a little family,” Khouri said. “I look forward to it. It’s a nice respite to be able to work on your art full time for a full week.”