Students put welding skills to artistic use

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Last spring semester Louisiana Machinery/Caterpillar of Reserve approached the welding department at South Central Louisiana Technical College about building a sculpture for its newly remodeled showroom. Like many residents and businesses in St. John Louisiana Machinery suffered extensive water damage from Hurricane Isaac.
“They told me about another sculpture commissioned for another facility and provided pictures,” said SCLTC Reserve welding instructor Jimmy Goodson. “We agreed to do the project after discussing it with the students and began thinking about ideas. We wanted to try to capture the essence of Reserve and what it means to those of us who work and live here.”
The base of the sculpture is industrial to represent that aspect of the community, and it supports a nearly 8-foot fleur de lis frame, which will certainly tell everyone this is south Louisiana. Parts of the frame have a wire screen effect that helps to define the overall look, but that mesh is actually the front grill from a variety of Caterpillar vehicles. The project included many other elements from Caterpillar such as replica vehicles that sit atop a built-in platform, helping to further define the industrial theme. The students used “Cat yellow and black” as the paint colors along with some Caterpillar logo type emblems.
According to Goodson, there are two things that stand out most about this project. The first, he said, is the artwork that was drawn, digitized and then water jet cut. It became the focal point of the sculpture and was drawn by Sam Andry, who was the school’s contact and a Louisiana Machinery employee.
“The artwork captures the essence of what the folks here in Reserve value,” said Goodson.
The second thing that he said stands out about the project is the work that the students attempted to do, for many of them they had never worked at the art level.  
The class utilized Kenny Stevens, the welding instructor at East St. John High School, and his students to help with some aspects of the project. They are housed at the technical college’s campus since their home school was destroyed by the flood. Stevens was able to show them some aspects of the welding business that the students normally don’t get a chance to see.
The main artists were primarily from Reserve. Welding department adjunct instructor Brian Abadie, Justin Landry, Shane Weber and Keith Lingerfelt, who hails from Ponchatoula, carried the main load. They were learning fabrication techniques, and this project allowed them to see many aspects of this process.
– This article was written by Jimmy Goodson, SCLTC Reserve welding instructor