Frozen in time

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The emotions Sandy Phillips has gone through during the past eight months are now cast in bronze.

The Lowell Whiteman School art teacher is due to give birth in April, and though there is a slight resemblance, she said she was not the model for the 1-foot tall bronze statue that arrived, finished, last week from the foundry. She molded the statue with clay using only her imagination, and it was cast in bronze using an expensive and time-consuming process. The statue, called "Birth Prayer," speaks very personally to her, and she is a little embarrassed showing the piece.

"Every piece, when I first do it, it's so close to me that it speaks too truly to who I am," Phillips said. "It's like someone is looking into your soul."

The woman in the sculpture is crouched in a kneeling position, naked, and the coloring gradually fades from the dull-colored base to her bright, polished bronze head. The woman's hand covers her belly.

"It's a different feeling for women to go through," she said about pregnancy. "It's something very powerful and very private."

The piece is the first in an edition of 15. Each sells for $1,800.

"Birth Prayer" is the sixth sculpture she has cast in bronze. Although she was a fine arts major with a concentration in sculpture, the high cost and time-consuming process of working with bronze only recently allowed her to produce a life-size statue named "Ruby."

"Life-size is so much more engaging," Phillips said. "They want to see what she's writing, they want to see what she's reading."

She was commissioned in 2004 to produce the sculpture for her former high school in Scottsbluff, Neb.

"Ruby" weighs 175 pounds. It is of a girl reading and writing atop two books floating in the air.

"Ruby was fun to do because the Scottsbluff Public School Foundation was looking for a piece of artwork to honor all the valedictorians and academia in the school," Phillips said. "It was my first chance to do a life-size piece."

Because of its size, the mold had 22 parts, and the bronze pieces were welded together. Phillips will produce seven of the sculptures. Only two have been cast. One sits in the lobby of her old high school. The other is on display at The Lowell Whiteman School.

Phillips said she is talking to people who are interested in seeing her work in a public place in Steamboat.

"That's the other great thing about sculpture -- you can touch it," she said. "It's not off-limits."

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