Renowned artist crafts minds of art students

Joseph Pottackal ('09)/ Eastside Online Editor-in-Chief

online-thomas_mann.jpgAs a renowned jeweler and artist, Thomas Mann has shaped thousands of scraps of metal into mind-bending works of art. This past Friday, January 4, Mann had the opportunity to shape the minds, goals and skills of aspiring artists while visiting East.

Stopping by during eighth period Commercial Art at the request of Max Levine (‘09), Mann managed to squeeze a slideshow, video, brief lecture and even most of a demonstration of sawing technique into just under 45 minutes.

Mann is quite well known for his pieces inspired by Hurricane Katrina as well as his Anti-War metal pieces. Mann’s art has also graced the cover of Ornament, a popular art magazine. In his New Orleans studio, Mann currently has 14 employees though at one point, he maintained a staff of 26.

Mann started with a brief personal introduction and some encouraging advice to students planning on adopting art as a profession.

“If this were career day, I would be here to tell you that it’s absolutely possible to make a living as an artist,” said Mann. “So… if you have that kind of juice in you, don’t let anybody dissuade you from pursuing that course of action because I’m here to tell you that it’s definitely doable.”

However, Mann was sure to warn hopeful students of the pressures and demands of a career in art.

“[The profession] requires a lot more energy than most people ever apply to their careers,” said Mann, “because if you want to be an artist, you have to be an entrepreneur.”

Although Mann was interrupted mid-demonstration by the bell, the impact he had made on students was reflected by the fact that many students stayed to watch even after the bell rang. During his demonstration, Mann also managed to dispel the common myth that wax lubricates and increases the efficiency of the saw. 

By the time Mann completed his visit, students managed to learn, at the very least, a few pointers on sawing and on the lifestyle of an artist. For a select few, Mann may have made a mark that could last a lifetime.