The Story behind the “Weeping Father” at ArtPrize

The Story behind the “Weeping Father” at ArtPrize

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Dobberfuhl's "Weeping Father."

By Samantha Baker – The Collegiate Staff

ArtPrize is in full swing, and the top 20 have been selected in both the juror’s and public top 20, placing the finalists in the second round of the competition.

Among the artists, was Donna Dobberfuhl, 67, of San Antonio, Texas. Her piece, a sculpture called the “Weeping Father” was created by Dobberfuhl using stainless steel and bronze. The piece consists of ten,  seven-foot stainless steel panels with five life-size figures on the inside of the sculpture ranging from the crouching stance that appears to gradually “fall” to a balled up posture, and then the figures go from a fetal-like position to an almost sky-worshipping position on the backside of the piece. The piece is located in front of the La Grande Vitesse on Calder Plaza on Monroe Avenue.

“The story that it depicts is an 18-year-old story of tragedy,” Dobberfuhl said. “And the triumph side (the outside) that I heard about four years ago.”

The story Dobberfuhl heard 18 years ago was:

“What would bring a man to his knees,

What would crush a heart and make it bleed?

What could never ever be made whole,

A father finding his child lifeless,

And a mother guilty of the loss, and she too fallen,

Taken by her own hand.”

Four years ago, a man came into Dobberfuhl’s studio, and she told the man the story of the “Weeping Father.” After telling the man the story, he said “I was that fallen figure.” He told her about the story of his own tragedy. The man told her how he had lost his ability to walk when he was a teenager, and how he was now in his 40’s. The accident left him bound to a wheelchair. “I am ‘standing’ now,” Dobberfuhl said the man told her. “ All I wanted to do was go to sleep, but to my surprise, there was love all around me. I choose to ‘stand’, I chose to go on. My life has more to say.”

From start to finish, Dobberfuhl spent three years creating “Weeping Father”.

Dobberfuhl said she faced a few challenges along the way given the sculpture weighs about 3,000 pounds and had to be shipped and installed. She said the installation had cost her twice as much as she expected it.

Dobberfuhl said she has been involved in art since she was 3-years-old, and has been a professional artist since 1974.

This is the first time Dobberfuhl has ever entered in ArtPrize, and she said that she heard about it three years ago while she was at another art show. A couple who bought a piece asked her if she had ever heard of ArtPrize. When she said no they told her that she should look it up and “well, here I am,” Dobberfuhl chuckled.

Dobberfuhl said that she would have paid her bills and used the money for the supplies for the art she does for her career if she had won.

Dobberfuhl said that her motivation for creating art is the passion for art, saying, “it was just there.” She said her mother and husband were encouraging in her path to becoming an artist.

“I love it. It’s a challenge,” Dobberfuhl said. “Every day something new happens. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people here. [And] I’m enjoying ArtPrize a lot.”
For more information about Dobberfuhl and her artwork. You can visit the ArtPrize website.

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