By Tre Nesbit
Western Sun staff writer
Students have no need to travel to the Smithsonian Institute or the National Geographic museum to view some of the renowned sculptures featured there. They can simply take a stroll right down to Humanities 133 right here on the Golden West College campus to view the artist whose work is featured in such places in action.
Raymond Persinger doubles as a prolific sculptor whose work has been featured in museums across the world, and as a professor to students wanting too learn about the craft. Be it bronze, clay, or even glasswork Persinger brings his extensive body of work and experience to the classroom to assist novice artists.
Persinger’s eyes light up as he begins talking about his students. “I really like teaching at this level because for many people this is when they discover what they’ve been missing, something they feel they’ve needed.” He says that many discover their desire to be artists in his classes and “It’s nice to be that person that introduces them.”
“I recall a particular moment when a student slammed her first on the table and said ‘this rocks! I had no idea this was out here.’ I told her ‘it’s been waiting for you for some 2,000 years,” he says with a chuckle.
The 45-year-old was a born handyman, building things with his father’s tools from a young age. “I always loved making things, I think on some level we all do as humans. We like to express our experiences be it spiritual, sexual, music, food.”
He continued with his craftsmanship until a high school teacher encouraged him to expand on his handyman tendencies through means of studying fine art. First came his bachelor’s form California State University (CSU) Long Beach. Next was his Master of Fine Arts degree from CSU Fullerton and next came his legacy.
At the fresh age of 23 Persinger was commissioned for his first large public art piece, creating “Mustangs,” a life-size recreation of three horses for the city of Brea. Persinger was then recruited by Dinamation, creating life-sized sculptures of dinosaurs and other creatures for museums across the world. After 10 solid years with the company he left doing freelance work for Disney and was eventually asked to teach at the Laguna College of Art and Design from 1995-2013 which Persinger says is one the highlights of his career.
“I’m really proud of what we did there, I mean we built the program from the ground up. It was eventually recognized as one of the best programs in the nation. It was just my wife Mary Ann and I. We had had good instructors, and so we were good instructors.”
As an instructor Persinger says he continues to learn from his students. “I believe the Outside the classroom his work influences his whole family who gets in on the art. He works alongside his wife and even his children. “I remember when I had my first daughter she must have been only a toddler, I was so in love. I would let her create with me sometime, she would sculpt away at the base of a piece and I would go back and fix it or change things. It got to a point where she put her hand out at me once as if to see ‘no, this part is done.”
Presinger’s favorite part about creating is that art “has a life of it’s own. You create it and so many people love it and means different things to so many different people. It continues to live on, people take pictures with your work and people tell you stories of how it influenced them or what it means to them. You love knowing you did something that mattered to someone.”
In general terms of creating the sculptors best advice is to be true to yourself. “If you do your own work, people will find you. If you do someone else’s work they’ll end up finding them.”
Raymond currently teaches 3D Design and Sculpting at Golden West College as well as classes at Mt. San Antonio, Orange Coast College, Golden West and Blizzard Entertainment Academy.
About Western Sun
THE WESTERN SUN is published bi-weekly on Wednesdays by the newspaper production classes of Golden West College. All opinions expressed in The Western Sun, unless otherwise indicated, are those of the individual writer or artist and do not necessarily reflect those of the college, district, or any other organization or agency. The Western Sun is a member of the Journalism Association of Community Colleges and the California Newspaper Publishers’ Association.