December 14, 2020 - February 28, 2022

This exhibition of public art installed on the campus of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art features works by Tara Conley, Earl Dismuke, Erica Larkin Gaudet, and Mia Kaplan. The four steel sculptures, diverse in aesthetics and inspiration, embody a common message of resilience – the power of language to inspire, the imposing physicality of the archetypal hammer, the biological strength of the swamp flower, and the enduring power inherent in the human form.

Exhibition calendar presented by
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Persistence is sponsored by
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EARL DISMUKE is a Mississippi sculptor. He graduated in 2007 from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in sculpture. His sculptures are abstract, made from wood, steel, cast aluminum and found objects. Some of these found objects you see in your everyday life, but others are rather bulky industrial metal castoffs that he finds while searching scrap yards and fabrication plants. His work tells his story, but he likes to leave enough ambiguity in the work that the audience can make their own interpretations.

Examples of his work have been included in several international and national exhibitions, including but not limited to, the Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition, New Orleans, LA, Scope Basel in Basel, Switzerland, Lima, Peru, and several gallery and museum shows.
Earl is a co-founder of the Yokna Sculpture Trail, a bi-annual rotating outdoor sculpture exhibition in Oxford, Mississippi. He is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission 2019 Visual Arts Fellowship Grant, and a member of the International Sculpture Center.

MIA KAPLAN is a painter and sculptor from Southeast Louisiana. She earned a degree in Drawing and Printmaking from the Memphis College of Art, and has had her work included in many publications: Artforum, Food & Wine, Fitness Magazine, New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles, Country Roads Magazine, Modern Farmer, The Louisiana Review, and more. She exhibits nationally in galleries, museums, and public places. Her work is driven by an interest in transformational qualities and patterns found in nature as told through her personal process of documenting life in the marshes and swamps of her hometown, and through sculptural abstraction of natural borders, landscapes, wildflowers, and refuges.



Lines of Strength is an abstracted, hand formed reclining figurative female form showing gestures and motion by accentuating negative spaces. The sculptural lines and conceptual framework create a definitive and fluid line symbolizing the strength and empowerment of a woman. As a transitional metal, 23.5KT Gold finish “is symbolic of flexibility on our spiritual path while life experience galvanizes our faith” and also represents “illumination, love, compassion, courage, passion, magic, and wisdom.”

Erica Larkin Gaudet is a sculptor who primarily uses metal as her material. She has been welding and fabricating sculptural work for both private and public clients for over 30 years. After receiving her BA from Loyola University in Sculpture in 1991, she founded Erica Larkin Studio, a metal sculpting studio specializing in custom furniture and sculpture.

Her sculptures have been included in public art exhibits such as The Sculpture for New Orleans’ Poydras Corridor Public Art, The Joan Mitchell Foundation Public Art, Louisiana Presbytere Museum, Downtown St. Joseph, MO Sculpture Walk, Scope Basel, Switzerland, The Irish Hibernian Sculpture Park, The Jimmy Club Sculpture Park, LA.

Throughout the years, Larkin Gaudet has offered metalworking workshops to many New Orleans metal artists and has taught sculpture courses at private schools, both nationally & internationally. In addition to her sculptural work, Erica Larkin Gaudet created a handcrafted furniture design line “Larkin Gaudet Furniture, LLC” featuring luxury beds, chairs, tables, lighting and leather upholstery. Her work has been commissioned by restaurants, hotels, private residences and many commercial properties. Larkin Gaudet and her glass artist husband, Mitchell Gaudet, have also led the development of two neighborhood arts revitalization, created and managed artists spaces and established two successful art galleries, Studio Waveland Gallery & Studio Inferno Gallery.


Originally from Bath, New York, Tara Conley is a sculptor who lives and works in Houston, Texas. Conley shows internationally and is included in several public art collections including the City of Houston, Texas Tech University, Houston Audubon Society, Sculpture for New Orleans with the Helis Foundation and Triple S Steel.

To activate space and engage the viewer she employs metal, light, line, text, and shadow. Her sculptures have a unique specificity and refinement not often found in sculpture. Twenty years of experience has given her a command of many materials including bronze, steel, stainless steel, aluminum, fiber, fiberglass and plastics. Conley’s study of metalsmithing & jewelry is evident in the mindful design and precise execution of her pieces at any scale. Pieces are often installed and secured in a hidden fashion, keeping the look of the sculpture itself paramount.