By Steve Hansen and Thomas Garcia
There are always a thousand things to do for the students and artists who participate in Mesalands Community College’s Annual Iron Pour, but they keep coming back, event coordinator D’Jean Jawrunner said.
While there were some new faces for the 17th Annual Iron Pour that ended Saturday, most of this year’s participants made return trips to the event, she said.
Their reason for coming back was the same: “The people.”
The students and artists spend a full week carving wax into art pieces, making molds, breaking up cast iron to fed into furnaces, preparing the molds for hot iron, and finally, pouring the iron into the molds to produce sculpture.
“It’s not all about iron, its about seeing family. That’s what we are to one another, family,” said Melissa Van Sandt, of Atlanta, Georgia, who has been coming since 2004. “I could pour iron in Atlanta, which is a lot closer than taking a plane ride over 700 miles to Tucumcari. The people are what’s important. Its important to me to come here and see the people that I love.”
Martin Spei, a Santa Fe artist who has been coming for six years, agreed.
Most of the year, he said, he works alone, but he keeps coming back to the Mesalands Iron Pour.
“It’s the people, the camaraderie,” he said. “I look forward to it every year.
“It’s really fun to see familiar faces and the energy of young people boiling with new ideas. It’s alive and keeps all of us creating outside our comfort zone.”
Chris Wolf of Colorado Springs, Colorado, returned for the fifth time this year but without his father, who was not able to break way from work.
His response to why he keeps coming back was, “the people.
“We have our own mini-culture here,” he said. “It’s very positive.”
Courtney Ford came in from Asheville, North Carolina, for a return trip to the Iron Pour.
“It’s the people and D’Jean is the best,” she said, and the community’s hospitality is “beautiful and so sweet.”
Ford said she does most of her work in stone carving out of her home in Asheville.
Jawrunner said, “It is the warm nature and communal feeling of Mesalands’ Iron Pour that has so many people returning each year.”
Jawrunner said community support makes the Iron Pour a perennial success.
“We are so grateful for the community for all that they do to help make the visiting students and artist feel welcome,” Jawrunner said.
Local residents donate and collect cast iron, cook meals and donate food for the students and artists, she said.
First time participants were also glad they came and and are already excited about next years event.
“This was my first year at the Iron Pour and I’m impressed,” said Belinda Gomez, of Plainview, Texas, a student at Wayland Baptist University. The overall feel is relaxed and good spirited, she said.
Shiri Ghoraishi, a student at Collin College in Plano Texas, said she enjoyed her first visit to Tucumcari and also plans a return to the Iron Pour next year to continue the work on a multiple piece sculpture she started this year.
Katelyn Wilson, a Wayland Baptist University theater major, said, “I love it!” whenasked about her first Iron Pour as a fellow student taped aluminum foil to Wilson’s work boots to prepare for work close to the hot iron.
“I’m learning a lot and this is a unique experience,” she said