Sculpture Conference Provides Cornell with Insight, Information for Future of Northwestern’s Visual Arts Program, Students

October 20, 2023

Thomas CornellThomas Cornell, assistant professor of visual arts in Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s Wisdom Family Foundation Visual Arts program, said he was “filled with pride” to see that students within the university’s art program are “on par” with those at a flagship school after recently attending the Midsouth Sculpture Alliance conference at the University of Oklahoma in Norman and seeing the students’ works on display there.

“I can’t wait until I can nominate some of the students here for an undergraduate scholarship from Midsouth Sculpture Alliance,” Cornell said.

The conference, which occurs annually for sculptors in academia from across Oklahoma and the country, provided workshops focused on the production of three-dimensional art.

Cornell was able to attend two workshops and multiple lectures that he believes will impact his teaching immediately and in the future.

In the Objective Figure Sculpting: Focus on Isolated Facial Features workshop Cornell said what he learned will be immediately relevant as he’ll be teaching sculpture and 3D Fundamentals during the spring semester.

“There is a definite trend towards the reemergence of the human figure in contemporary art, and this was a great opportunity to refresh and hone my skills in that area,” Cornell said. “I really think students will enjoy the potential opportunities for working with aspects of the human form in these courses.”

Cornell said the second workshop he attended – the OU Library Emerging Technologies workshop – will impact his teaching in the longer term.

“With the new art major, David Poindexter (associate professor of visual arts) and I are looking towards incorporating more contemporary technology into our program,” Cornell said. “This course let me work with a variety of new technologies including a handheld 3D scanner that cost more than my truck! I also was able to learn about photogrammetry and a program that we are looking into to scan objects using cameras in a way that is infinitely scalable.”

Cornell noted that he made and reinvigorated contacts with several conference attendees and was able to share information about Northwestern’s new visual arts major. He also gave information to graduate students looking to provide guest lectures at Northwestern and let various universities know that there would be interested Northwestern students looking at graduate programs in the future.

To learn more about the visual arts program, visit or contact Cornell at (580) 327-8111 or


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