Kirk McMinn, a graduate of the University of South Carolina and an obsessed gamecock fan, always wanted to produce a “Fighting Gamecock” metal sculpture. After researching their incredible history, he became driven with the desire to create a sculpture of one of these fierce and stunning birds. Kirk decided to name this piece “THE GENERAL” after General Thomas Sumter, the Revolutionary War hero from South Carolina. Feared by many British Generals during the war because of his fierce and unrelenting courage in battle, Sumter was nicknamed the “Fighting Gamecock”.
“THE GENERAL”, is made of Copper, Bronze, and Steel and involved over six months of painstaking welding, brazing, sketching, drawing and design to complete. He plans to sculpt more “Fighting Gamecocks” and large scale birds in the future and is currently working on a full size eagle he has titled “American Spirit”. This piece will be the most ambitious sculpture of his career and will symbolize the enduring nature of American Freedom and Liberty.
Kirk’s first “American Bald Eagle” sculpture was unveiled in Virginia in 1976 by Linda Bird Johnson Robb as part of the American Bi-Centennial Celebration. This Eagle is also listed in the “Smithsonian Institute Inventory of American Artists and Sculpture” and is part of the private collection of The Rouse Company, developers of Columbia, MD. In addition, an important commission of an outdoor architectural stainless steel sculpture, called TIME AND SPACE, was unveiled in the late 70’s by Mrs. Lynwood Holton, the wife of then Virginia Governor Lynwood Holton.
Kirk created over 30 additional commissioned bird sculptures during a 10 year period, from 1976 thru 1986. To date, these works of art are part of valuable private collections all over the world. In addition to his large commission works, he created hundreds of brass, copper and stainless steel wall pieces, table sculpture and fountains per year. The main focus of his work during this time were residential sculptures and his many clients included The National Assn of Letter Carriers, Future Homemakers of America, WMAL TV, WMAL Radio, foreign dignitaries, many Washington Redskins players, and obviously too many more to list.
Kirk McMinn grew up in Greenville South Carolina in the 1950’s and 60’s, graduating from the University of South Carolina in 1967, with a B.S. in Management. In 1969, just six weeks after graduation he was drafted by the US Army to serve in Viet Nam. After his service duty he returned home to work for a CPA firm for two years and start a family. His next three years were spent as a controller for a national trade association in Alexandria, Va. However, this line of work never really satisfied Kirk’s inner passion for artistic expression, a passion sparked by his father when he was a child.
His father, know by many as “Papa Kirk” was a certified Welder and Head of the Welding School at Greenville Technical University. He saw his son’s talent as anartist and was instrumental in teaching him the mastery and art of welding with the oxygen/acetylene torch. His father desired to cultivate his son’s talent and urged him to pursue metal sculpture. With the confidence and the mastery instilled by his father’s belief and Kirk’s love of creating art, he set off on his journey as a metal sculptor 1972...At first, metal sculpture was just a hobby, but his work began selling and two years later he quit his full-time job to pursue this passion full time. Kirk spent the next 30 years creating masterful works, leading the field of direct metal sculptors around the world. He never returned to the world of accounting. In 2000 he moved to Aiken, SC in to continue a second career as a “Dressage Trainer”, but he never lost the desire to create beautiful “direct metal sculptures.”
Description of Medium
Direct Metal Sculpture is a technique that uses the Oxygen/Acetylene torch, which includes welding and brazing. The sculpture is done primarily using the direct application of the torch to metal with heat, to form all designs spontaneously, producing beautiful variations of texture, color and form. This method of forming sculpture has almost limitless applications, allowing the artist true freedom of creation, because the imagination is captured in the moment, much like painting.
By: Christopher K. McMinn