Celebrated Sculptor Richard Hunt Is Proud As He Works On Special Piece For Obama Center – CBS Chicago

Celebrated Sculptor Richard Hunt Is Proud As He Works On Special Piece For Obama Center – CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — Richard Hunt is considered one of the most important African American sculptors of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Now, the Chicago native can add another honor to his stellar career. As CBS 2’s Asal Rezaei reported Monday, Hunt got a special commissioned request from one other than former President Barack Obama.

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Hunt considers himself lucky to do what he loves every day.

“I’m glad I was able to make a career actually out of making sculptures,” Hunt said.

Hunt grew up on Chicago’s South Side. His passion for art goes back as far as he can remember – eventually leading him to the Junior School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1950s.

From there, his love of sculpting took off, and continues to this day.

“Get up and go into the studio, paint, and sculpt – do what you can to make people familiar and knowledgably about what it is you’re doing,” Hunt said.

At 86 years old, Hunt has too almost many career achievements to count. They arrange from dozens of prestigious awards to sculptures not only across the City of Chicago – including the famous Ida B. Wells National Monument – but also at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and other major museums all over the world.

No matter where his pieces end up, Hunt’s studio has remained since 1971 in the Lincoln Park community – on Lill Avenue.

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While the art in Hunt’s studio remarkable, the studio space is even more unbelievable – it used to be a Chicago Railway Systems electrical substation the early 20th century.

In the studio right now is a model of Hunt’s latest sculpture – a historic piece, as Hunt has been chosen by former President Barack Obama to contribute a piece to his new library.

“I have been a huge admirer of your work for a long time, and Michelle has as well,” former President Obama told Hunt in a video call released by the Obama Foundation recently.

Hunt says the finished statue for the Obama Presidential Center will weigh a few hundred pounds.

“It feels good. I’m glad they came to me instead of someone else,” Hunt said. “I’m looking forward to seeing this, nine feet tall and sitting in front of the library.”

When Rezaei asked Hunt how long he plans to keep building his art, Hunt said: “Well, I would say as long as I’m alive – that seems to be about as far as I could go. But it’s not like I’m going to retire.”

With no plans for retirement, Hunt plans to continue sculpting a legacy of which he knows his city is proud.

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Hunt told CBS 2 there is not a set timeline on when the sculpture for the Obama Center will be done. He said it remains a work in progress, and he will let us know when he is closer to finishing.

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