The United States Sports Academy’s 2014 Sport Artist of the Year, Gail Folwell, has just unveiled an enormous installation that she created for Pro Football Hall of Fame and ArtsInStark, a non-profit art organization that manages the Culture Center and Annual Arts Campaign in Stark, Ohio.“The NFL Draft, 1936,” a massive bronze sculpture comprised of five 7-foot, 450-pound figures, was unveiled in downtown Canton, Ohio, on August 7, 2015. The piece depicts Bert Bell, co-founder and owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, ready to snap the ball flanked by four linemen. The former National Football League (NFL) commissioner conceived of a college draft after noticing that the same teams seemed to dominate the sport every year. This monumental change in NFL history is now being commemorated as part of a public art project.
This is not the first time that Bell has been recognized for his great work as he was one of the first Pro Football Hall of Famers, inducted into the Class of 1963. Since its beginning, the Hall of Fame list has grown to 295 members with the most recent inductees joining the Class of 2015, including Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Charles Haley, Bill Polian, Junior Seau, Will Shields, Mick Tingelhoff, and Ron Wolf.
Folwell’s sculpture is one of 11 installations that will comprise the art series “The Eleven.” Each piece of the anticipated five-year project will depict a different historic event in football, each inspired by a chapter in the book, “Where Greatness Lives,” written by Pete Fierle.
In 2014, Folwell was recognized as the Academy’s Sport Artist of the Year during the 30th Annual Awards of Sport Program. She has also donated sculptures to the American Sport Art Museum and Archives, including her piece titled, “Pas de Deux,” which features an exchange between two hockey players.
Folwell uses her appreciation of sports and anatomy to sculpt various athletes, expressing the energy of athletes and their sport with abstracted figurative forms frozen in mid-motion throughout her art.
In addition to the work she has provided for “The Eleven” project, Folwell has also completed sculptural commissions for the National Hockey League, Vail Resorts, Bowling Green State University, the City of Frisco, Texas, and many additional private collectors.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, regionally accredited, special mission Sports University created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call 251-626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.