With Professor’s Help, Student Finds ‘The Sculptor Within’

Posted: January 26, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Colleen Kearney Rich

LaRinda Meinburg
LaRinda Meinburg
Creative Services photo

Senior LaRinda Meinburg finds inspiration in everyday household items – garbage bags, plastic milk jugs and toilet paper – but her sculptures are far from ordinary. And they have started to capture the attention of the local arts community.

Meinburg was one of 36 artists recently awarded fellowships from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. She was one of only two artists from the Northern Virginia area to receive an award this year.

“I am always looking at materials, forms and textures,” says Meinburg, who is working on her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art and Visual Technology (AVT) and expects to graduate in May. Those who travel through the Fine Arts Building on the Fairfax Campus may remember her sculpture, Black Vortex, which Meinburg considers her “first real project.” Black Vortex is a floor-to-ceiling sculpture of black plastic knitted trash bags. It took two months to create after Meinburg first built the looms to weave the plastic.

“They tend to go pretty big,” she says of her pieces. “It tells me how big it wants to be. I never plan it that way.”

Meinburg relocated to Northern Virginia from Boise, Idaho, with her sights set on becoming a graphic designer. An art foundations class with associate professor and sculptor Tom Ashcraft changed all that and put Meinburg in touch with “the sculptor within.”

“He told me, ‘You really should take sculpture,’” she says, “and it has become my passion.” Meinburg’s work has been included in shows at numerous galleries both in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area and Baltimore.

“It is all-consuming for me,” says Meinburg of her work. “I think about it 24 hours a day.”

“LaRinda has a gift for making the ordinary, extraordinary. The intensity of her work ethic, the beauty of her objects and the visibility of her process are exciting and exemplary,” says Peter Winant, assistant professor in AVT. “One day soon, we are all going to say, with great pride, that LaRinda once was our student here at Mason. She’s as good as it gets.”

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