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To College of Charleston student Sydney Lovice, welding is more than just fabricating and fusing materials; it’s a creative platform for exploring the intricacies of metal and the metaphorical.

Lovice, a senior majoring in studio art, creates her sculpture pieces using MIG welding and industrial metals such as copper and steel to produce “armor” that she then places on plaster casts of her own likeness.

“I knew I wanted to create these beautiful crowns and armor from metal and other industrial materials,” Lovice says. “Those are the materials I’m most comfortable working with.”

The armor that is the centerpiece of Lovice’s senior thesis is intended to metaphorically represent the mental “armor” people use to protect themselves. Lovice used casts of herself to make the pieces more personal and vulnerable.

“Everyone is trying to protect their vulnerability or hide their flaws,” she says.

The process for creating these beautiful works was not easy, and the initial mold for the cast of her upper body took hours to complete.

“Creating each piece was both fun and frustrating,” she says. “It was a lot of experimentation, and I was just as surprised by what I came up with as anyone else.”

Lovice’s creative process is experimental. She allows the materials to guide the final outcome of each piece.

“Making each armor piece took anywhere from a few days to a week, but that was mostly experimenting and remaking,” she says. “I made a lot of pieces that didn’t make the final cut!”

Lovice hopes those that see her art will relate to the vulnerability of her work.

“Art is personal, and everybody sees something different depending on their own experience,” she says.

Her artistic inspiration comes from her mother, who is a painter, as well as artists Nick Cave and Antony Gormley.

“I think both of these artists do a great job mixing the figurative and the abstract, especially when abstracting the human form,” Lovice says.

Elizabeth M. Quarles is a sophomore from Atlanta, Georgia, studying creative writing and studio art at College of Charleston. 

Photos by Heather Moran