When Larry King was retiring from the U.S. Postal Service in 1992, he was looking for a way to continue to fulfill his passion for art.
"It was in the fall, late at night, when a radio ad for Monday night sculpture classes at College of DuPage caught my attention," he said. "I had some formal training in sculpture at Xavier University in New Orleans in 1956 and at the Art Institute in Chicago from 1957 to 1960. I immediately enrolled.
"I was in luck. The Monday night Sculpture instructor, fresh from Yale, was Fred Bruney, a practicing sculptor. My goal was to use the well-equipped studio space at that time, learn methods and techniques, and exchange art ideas with fellow students. The student ages ranged from late teens to seniors. One of my greatest joys and learning experiences then and today is participating in student critiques."
King had developed a love for art at a very early age when he would draw with his mother. In fact, she would state that he could draw better than her by the age of 5. King also gained welding experience working with at his father's auto repair shop as a teen and at the Art Institute of Chicago, and the skill came in handy at COD. He became a lab technician and assisted Bruney in the Sculpture Lab and specialized in instructing students in the proper use of the welding equipment and power tools.
"With Fred’s help and guidance, our classes completed many sculpture projects," he said. "Some of us assisted Fred in his many large installations at COD, Tough Gallery in Chicago, University of Wisconsin, Wright State in Ohio, among others. We often visited museums and galleries in the Chicago area and traveled to New York during spring breaks to check out the many galleries and museums. We gained knowledge from the volume of art we saw, which resulted in discussions and ideas to consider in our work.
"There were great instructors and friends at COD who I learned a lot from -- of course, Fred Bruney, and Jennifer Hereth, Richard Lund, Kathy Kamal Baum and Chuck Boone, to name a few."
During his time at COD, King produced many sculptures. Two of his large sculptures can still be seen in the Chicago area: “Strike II” at the North Shore Sculpture Park and “Reeds” at the National University of Health Sciences in Lombard.
In 2000, Dorothy Guzzo, a College of DuPage sculpture student, bought a home in the mountains of Asheville, N.C. Because she had learned how to weld at COD, she asked King to set up a welding section in her studio during the March spring break. Because he and his wife enjoyed the area so much, they moved to Asheville in August of that year and continue to live there as well as maintain their own studio.
King has displayed his work in the Asheville area, both in galleries and outdoor installations, and he participated in the International Sculpture show “Nature Unframed” at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. In 2019, a new sculpture, “Split,” was unveiled outdoors for the exhibit “Cosmic Blueprint” – curated by Hereth – at the Burning Bush Gallery in Wheaton. He considers himself lucky to have the time and space to experiment with different media, including natural material such as bamboo, to explore and use in his sculptures.
He would advise students to use flowers as a metaphor.
"Don’t just smell the flowers, look closely and think of their source, then notice the variety. Comprehend the unity and harmony, form and structure, color and hue, perfections and imperfections," he said. "And if you appreciate these observations, you have the seeing eye of an artist. The COD Art program can help you express your life in this day and time with methods, techniques and ideas that can help you grow.
"I would also advise students to develop friendships with teachers and fellow art students while in school. After you leave or graduate, those friendships, when called upon, can help you stay connected with your creative side throughout your life. Art is not just a career; it is a life-long journey."