The hammer drives the chisel into a chalky, brittle shell. Dust flies as the various layers of casing shatter, chipping away to reveal a dull, darker likeness. Several treatments later a bronze bust of Vincent Van Gogh emerges from the ceramic pieces now lying on the floor.
The journey from selecting a model with the likeness of Van Gogh to the artistic rendition
appears tedious and overcomplicated, but every seemingly random change in medium lends to the wholeness of the final product.
The stranger at Braum’s had been staring at David Farnsworth since he walked in the door. “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Van Gogh?” “Yeah, I get that a lot,” Farnsworth answered.
From a local Braum’s to New Orleans’ French Quarter or picking up his son at Camp Loughridge, Farnsworth said people have begun to recognize him on a regular basis as a mimicry of the famous artist.
“It really started about 10 years ago when I grew a beard,” he said, “Fleta Buckles [instructor of humanities] mentioned her students picking up on the similarities. She always has a few students in her Art History class whispering during the Van Gogh unit, who have evidently had me in class before.”
As random as the mix of mediums employed to create a permanent image from molten bronze, a former student spontaneously contacted Farnsworth, associate professor of Spanish at ORU, with the suggestion of entering into a worldwide Van Gogh lookalike contest.
Artist Douglas Coupland began the “I Am Vincent” search as the first step to producing the first installment in a series of bronze busts of famous redheads. Coupland calls the redhead gene “the most recent, successful human mutation,” and plans to highlight
the way this random gene selection makes humanity a constantly changing
“There is no way of telling when a gene is going to change, and what sort of characteristic it will bring about,” Coupland said in his blog. The random series of events which brought Farnsworth to the competition is reflected in Coupland’s fascination with the phenomenon of the redhead gene.
Being voted into the top-20 contestants has been a fun highlight in Farnsworth’s journey. He was recently contacted by Coupland, who asked for four or five more angles of his head and shoulders because of his ranking this month. Coupland will select a winner from the top 30 entries who will be flown with a guest to Vancouver for 3D imaging, awarded 5,000 euros, and named on the plaque accompanying the sculpture.
“After all these years of everyone telling me just how much I look like him, it would just be hilarious to be chosen to represent him in a permanent way,” Farnsworth said, “My wife and I would get a quick vacation to Vancouver, and ORU would get a little notoriety on the side too.”