Next to the expansive glass entrance of Front Range Community College’s brand-new Health Care Careers Center, two bronze figures embrace, one cradling the other’s chest between its hands.
Local sculptor Lorri Acott titled it “Heartfelt,” depicting a calming gesture she and her husband call “holding hearts.” Its strategic placement gives a nod to the humanitarian aspects of the new health-care programs offered in the new building at Front Range Community College’s (FRCC) Larimer campus.
Those walking across campus at the new building, named Gray’s Peak through a campus vote, are greeted by a whimsical sculpture garden full of Acott’s impressionistic bronze figures, winding pathways and bridges, and local flora planted to bolster pollinator populations.
Lorri has created public art installations around the country but said this project was particularly special to her. To Lorri, education is about renewal, and “coming up with new ways of thinking and being.”
Lorri is a living example of this idea, having begun her professional life as an educator before switching to a career in sculpting at age 30.
Front Range “feels kind of like home,” said Lorri. She has both attended and taught classes at FRCC, and has watched many of her students at Poudre High School move through the college’s concurrent enrollment program.
The mountains are an inspiration behind one of the sculptures in the FRCC garden. “Heartsong” features a single bronze figure lounging on a rock, hand to heart, gazing at the sky.
Lorri said this is a reflection of the human tendency to “just find a rock to sit on” when in the high country. She invites students to enjoy an introspective moment right along with the subject of the sculpture.
“Caring Enough to Look” features one figure peering through the stained-glass chest of another.
Lorri says it was inspired by her mother’s struggle with breast cancer, but is also meant to evoke thoughtfulness on the importance of looking deeply at the souls of those we care about. Lorri’s mother gifted an edition of this sculpture to her oncologist after completing treatment.
One of Lorri’s most well-known works is a figure called “Peace” (not included in the FRCC collection) — depicting a figure holding aloft a flock of paper cranes, a tribute to Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who died of radiation poisoning following the World War II bombing of Hiroshima.
The sculpture was honored by the Michigan ACLU as “art to change the world” in 2014 and by World Citizens Artists in 2015. Several of the sculptures on campus feature birds and colorful butterflies reminiscent of “Peace,” continuing the thread of hope through Acott’s work.
“An educational facility is about hope,” said Lorri. She also stated that she sees FRCC as a place in which people of all ages can better themselves and start anew.
Despite the willowy, flowing lines of the sculptures, there’s a surprisingly complicated process behind their creation.
Lorri uses the lost-wax method of bronze casting, which involves “sketching” a model out of clay, creating a mold of the model into which wax is poured, coating the wax model with a heat-resistant ceramic-like shell, melting the wax out of the shell, and then pouring molten bronze into it.
In that process, the artist can then add color and finish to the work with a patina, a high-heat chemical reaction that oxidizes the bronze.
Lorri and her husband Adam Schultz co-founded a company called DreamBigSculpture, which creates large-scale commissioned projects, so they are both accustomed to spending much of their time at the handful of Loveland foundries that specialize in casting artwork.
Lorri and Adam closely supervise the entire foundry process for every piece they create (usually five to ten DreamBigSculpture commissions at a time, plus their own individual works).
Lorri began the ambitious FRCC project by trying to unearth “the story that needed to be told” and says now, “I captured the place that I know to be FRCC” with themes of renewal, rebirth, and hope.
For more information regarding Front Range Community College, visit: https://www.frontrange.edu