Austere beauty

Stirner sculpture on display at Tufts gallery

Sculptor Karl Stirner selects steel plate from the scrap yards of eastern Pennsylvania to create his “essentialist” sculpture. An exhibition of some of his more recent work, “Feeling Lucky: Recent Sculpture by Karl Stirner,” is on display at the University Art Gallery in the Aidekman Arts Center.

“Barbara’s Room,” steel and digital print, 59 x 56 x 31 inches

Stirner’s early influence came from his childhood obsession with collecting and studying natural objects. Later he worked as a blacksmith and metal-worker, producing ecclesiastic and hand-forged products. His work also has evolved in response to many non-sculptural and non-western influences: For more than 30 years, he has collected 20th century West African, Pre-Columbian and Polynesian sculpture and objects.

Stirner coaxes an austere beauty from obdurate metal, and his work transforms ponderous material into substantial—and at times luminous, burnished forms. More recently, he has begun to incorporate photographs into his constructions. This exhibition at Tufts is Stirner’s first solo museum presentation in New England.

The show runs through August 14. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call the gallery at 617-627-3518 or go to