September 25, 2017
Arts & Entertainment
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  • Cape St. Claire resident Deborah Banker created a statue that was positioned in front of Dragon Stadium at Glenelg Country School.
    Deborah Banker
    Cape St. Claire resident Deborah Banker created a statue that was positioned in front of Dragon Stadium at Glenelg Country School.
  • Cape St. Claire resident Deborah Banker created a statue that was positioned in front of Dragon Stadium at Glenelg Country School.
    Deborah Banker
    Cape St. Claire resident Deborah Banker created a statue that was positioned in front of Dragon Stadium at Glenelg Country School.

Cape Resident Deborah Banker Creates Bronze Dragon For Howard County School

Alyson Kay
Alyson Kay's picture
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June 28, 2017

A large green stone dragon statue sits inside Glenelg Country School in Ellicott City, staring out at students, staff and visitors of the upper school building. Thanks to the class of 2017, a smaller bronze dragon has joined it on campus.

The addition was placed on a pillar in front of the school’s sports stadium on the evening of June 8. Glenelg art teacher Deborah Banker was commissioned by the senior class to create the statue in honor of the school’s mascot. Banker is not only a teacher but also a professional sculptor who works on 3-D art at her home in Cape St. Claire.

Using a variety of materials, Banker has created statues for 42 years. She usually makes statues around 12 inches tall or smaller and exhibits them in galleries around the U.S. and in London. However, she has made larger ones, such as the soccer statue outside the Anne Arundel County Public Library headquarters on Truman Parkway in Annapolis.

Her interest in art began when her mother gave her craft projects to keep her entertained as a child. Although her fine arts training at George Washington University exposed her to many different art forms, she has always preferred 3-D art to 2-D art.

“If you give me a choice between paper and pencil and a ball of clay, I will always choose the ball of clay,” Banker said.

Before beginning work on a commission, Banker finds out where the sculpture will be placed and how it will be used. She uses this information to determine which materials she can use for the project. Since the dragon was going to be placed outside, she had to choose between weather-resistant materials like limestone, granite and bronze. Banker decided to use bronze because it’s an easier material to work with than stone.

The artist started with a detailed sculpture model using a steel skeleton and oil-based clay. Banker originally wanted to have the dragon’s wings folded while it held a ball on the ground, but she couldn’t get it to look right. She decided to flip the ball up and open the wings. When Banker made the changes, she saw an immediate improvement.

“Once I opened the wings and changed the metal structure underneath so it would hold that weight up, it really came alive,” said Banker.

Flipping the ball had the added benefit of making it easier for students to rub it for good luck before games, a ritual done with the green dragon before graduation.

After Banker was satisfied with the clay model of the dragon, she sent it to New Arts Foundry in Baltimore, where the staff created a mostly hollow bronze sculpture from a cast of the clay model.

Banker visited the foundry several times during the process to ensure that the details from her model were included. Several seniors visited the foundry on a field trip to watch as the bronze sculpture was created. “That was really fun for them,” Banker said.

Banker most enjoyed having students learn about her professional life outside of the school. “They got to know this whole other side of me,” Banker said. “That was very surprising for them.”


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