Walner Edmond Makes Art in Found Objects
By Victoria Staub, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Most Gettysburg students are familiar with the playful Bullet Hole worker and the sculpture made of tires located on the first floor of the library, but most do not know that the two are connected by the name Walner Edmond.
Edmond, the son of Haitian immigrants, is a Gettysburg native. He has worked at Gettysburg College since 2000, starting with dishwashing part time in Servo. Around 2002, Edmond signed up for ceramics classes at Gettysburg. In 2005, he started working full time at Bullet. In 2006, Edmond officially became a part-time art student at the College. He was most familiar with the ceramic medium, but when a friend, Brian Lovett, passed away on Christmas Day of 2006, Edmond was inspired to try a new medium: tires.
Lovett was a Department of Public Safety officer for 24 years. In 2006, he acted as the Night Shift Supervisor at the Musselman Library Circulation Desk. Edmond had become friends with Lovett through their shared experience of working for the College. Lovett taught Edmond about the highway cleaning he participated in and the plethora of tire scraps that coat the shoulders of highways such as the nearby Route 15. On New Year’s Day of 2007, Edmond began collecting tires from the highway to utilize in the sculpture he would later dedicate to Lovett: “Head Lock.”
“Head Lock” was officially donated to Musselman Library on May 20, 2008. It is a sculpture of an armless man, made of tire scraps, tethered by a massive lock around his neck. This lock was formed from a muffler. Edmond described the message of his work, “There are some things about yourself that you can’t change, and that’s what makes you you. So it’s kind of like baggage, but baggage you don’t want to necessarily change.” The lock also has no key, which Edmond understands as “accepting and moving forward” with this baggage.
Following Edmond’s presentation of “Head Lock,” which won the first place prize at the 2008 Student Juried Exhibit, he received his bachelor’s degree in fine arts at Alfred University. He credits Gettysburg professors Mark Warwick and Tina Gebhart with encouraging him to attend art school. During his senior year of college, Edmond’s work became part of a permanent fixture in Austria. Following his graduation, Edmond returned to Gettysburg College to TA for art classes. Edmond was commissioned for 32 two foot tall abstract wooden sculptures in 2012. This work is currently in Hawaii. Edmond received this opportunity from an art dealer he met through Professor Warwick.
Edmond has grown to appreciate found materials as an artform. He likes that each piece has its own history and that he can provide a second life for them. The most important part of this type of work is “finding the beauty in things [that are] overlooked,” according to Edmond. In fact, he discovered that his brother who recently passed, Rodney, was inspired by him to clean up around Gettysburg with his daughter. Rodney never used the objects for art, but he too was artistic. Actually, the entire Edmond family is artistic in some way, as Walner’s sister, Noline, is a ballet instructor.
As of right now, Edmond’s current art project is his children. As a father of two daughters, he has significantly less time to dedicate to art, but he and his wife, Heather ’09, have been very active in the Gettysburg and College communities, even helping to build the greenhouse at the Painted Turtle Farm.
When asked what advice he has for current students interested in art, Walner Edmond advised, “Just make. Share your ideas. People won’t know [your ideas] until you share them.”
This article originally appeared on page 15 of the April 2023 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.
Editor’s note: a previous version of this article misspelled Walner Edmond’s name (- K. Oglesby)