Because of his dedication to depicting some of sport and history’s greatest figures, sculptor J. Brett Grill has been selected as the United States Sports Academy’s Sport Artist of the Year, Sculptor. Grill will be introduced to the public during the Academy’s Awards of Sport program on its Daphne, Ala., campus on Thursday, November 10, 2022.
Since 1984, the Academy’s Sport Artist of the Year Award has been given to an individual who captures the spirit and life of sport so that future generations can relive the drama of today’s competition. The recipient may use a variety of art media including film, video or sculpture to depict the breadth and scope of both the agony and the ecstasy of sport.
Grill, of Grand Rapids, Mich., was recently selected as the sculptor for the city of Mobile, Ala., Hall of Fame Courtyard at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center. Grill was selected ahead of 13 other artists by a 17-member committee. The project will feature Mobile’s Major League Baseball Hall of Fame players including Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey, Satchel Paige, Billy Williams, and Ozzie Smith.
The sculptor also plans to donate art to the Academy’s American Sport Art Museum & Archives (ASAMA) for permanent public display during the November ceremony.
Grill is a sculptor of memorials, monuments, and portraits. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in sculpture from the University of Michigan in 2001 and an MFA in painting at the New York Academy of Art in 2003, both with honors. Brett worked as an Associate Professor of Art and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Missouri for 10 years and now maintains a studio in Grand Rapids, MI. He has lectured on his own work and historical artistic techniques throughout the Midwest. He has exhibited at various galleries and museums across the nation.
Brett has sculpted presidents, politicians, athletes, coaches, and other leaders. His commissioned sculptures can be found in public and private collections across the nation. In 2011 he was commissioned to create a statue of President Gerald R. Ford for the United States Capitol building in Washington D.C. His other notable works include a monument honoring the first Black athletes in the Southeastern Conference located at the University of Kentucky and a monument honoring Duke Slater at the University of Iowa. Additionally, Brett has produced monuments that can be found at the University of Michigan; Grand Valley State University; Concord, NH; the USS Gerald R. Ford; Grand Rapids, MI; Charlotte, NC; and Mobile, AL.