The University of Maine’s Emery Community Arts Center will kick off the academic year with an exhibit featuring the creative work of gifted sculptor and metal artist Jay Sawyer of Warren. “Sculpture Soup” will run from Monday, Aug. 29, to Nov. 3. A reception for the Midcoast artist will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

From his education at Maine Maritime Academy to his welding and mobile repair business back in the 1990s, Sawyer has always been drawn to the practical function of steel, iron and other salvaged materials. As he continued to work with the “rusty gold” and castoff materials, he found his own gift for transforming a mangled piece of rusty steel into a work of art. As he re-envisions, heats, reshapes, hammers and welds the scrap metal, he gives the material an opportunity to tell a new story.

“These discarded and salvaged materials really speak to me,” said Sawyer. “I see their former practical use and the beauty of their form and balance. Then I let the materials speak for themselves and that leads to a new life for them as a unique art form.”

Sawyer’s Studio JBONE in Warren is where he creates his one-of-a-kind sculptures and displays them in his outdoor gallery. A Maine native, Sawyer has his first art show in 2007 in Cushing. His works are on display in the public art collection at the Portland International Jetport; the Owls Head Transportation Museum; the Boothbay Region Art Foundation in Boothbay Harbor and Hyatt Place in Columbia, S.C., among others.

This exhibit is sponsored by the UMF Emery Community Arts Center, an innovative, experimental venue on the UMF campus for the arts in Western Maine. Emery Community Arts Center is at 111 South St. For more information, call 778-7000.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.