20 North 32nd Street, Birmingham, AL 35222
Sloss Metal Arts is a nationally acclaimed arts program created by historic Sloss Furnaces. The program focuses on cast iron and fabricated steel sculpture. Birmingham owes its existence to these metals and to the industries that grew up around them. Sloss has used these resources to develop a unique education program and art foundry that replicates the industrial processes that took place in Birmingham for more than 100 years. The Metal Arts serves both professional artists and the general public. For artists there are monthly open studios in which participants experiment with different casting techniques and processes and cast their own work in iron or bronze. An artist residency program is available for selected visiting artists, providing housing, a stipend, and full access to all metal arts facilities. In addition, the biennial Southern Conference on Cast Iron Art provides access to a national community of artists who come together for creative exchange and to a growing body of knowledge about the medium of cast iron. In 2007 some 350 artists, students, and professors from four countries, 30 states, and 61 colleges and universities attended the conference, which features four days of panels, workshops, exhibitions and iron pours. The Metal Arts also includes a wide variety of education programs for children, teens and adults. From March to December there are beginning-to-advanced level workshops on casting, welding and forging, all taught by the staff of professional artists at Sloss. A Summer Youth Apprenticeship program is designed specifically for high school students age 16 and older. The apprenticeship is an 8-week program in which talented Birmingham area students work with professional artists 30 hours/week, earn minimum wage, and learn to create metal sculpture. The program culminates in a public exhibition of their artwork. One of the most popular Metal Arts programs is designed for school children who visit Sloss on field trips. Part of their experience is a hands-on moldmaking and casting activity. The children are provided with sand molds and nails and carve their own unique design into the mold. Sloss artists melt iron in a small furnace while the children watch, then pour the molten metal into the molds. The children take home their very own cast iron art. Check the Sloss website, www.slossfurnaces.com, for dates and details for Metal Arts workshops and events.