Contact: Rene Abadie
Date: April 25, 2013
1) TAKE FLIGHT – Southeastern Louisiana University senior art student Zach Slough poses with his massive sculpture "Take Flight," which highlighted the recent juried student exhibition at the university.
2) MEMORIAL WORK – Southeastern art student Zach Slough works on the plaque he is creating for the Washington Parish Sheriff's Office to memorialize Oneal Moore, the parish's first African-American deputy who was killed in 1965.
HAMMOND – The massive wings of Icarus spanned the entry way of the Contemporary Art Gallery
for the recent Southeastern Louisiana University student juried exhibition.
The sculpture – titled "Take Flight" and made from aluminum, sycamore, copper, leather and nickel -- represents the Greek mythological character Icarus, the son of a master craftsman. At Southeastern, it is a modern day student craftsman behind the domineering work of art, and one who is now lending his talent and time to commemorate a fallen Louisiana hero.
"We have certain students at Southeastern who have exceptional skills and ideas," said Assistant Professor of Sculpture Jeff Mickey. "Zach is one of them."
Senior sculpture major Zach Slough, a native of Wabash, Ind., moved to Louisiana five years ago. The full-time student also works more than 30 hours a week at Ferrara Fire Apparatus in Holden, a job that utilizes his abilities as a welder-fabricator.
"I really like to work with my hands. I like to build things," said Slough. "I tend to get wrapped up in the minutia of things. I like the little details that take a long time to do."
"Take Flight" took nearly 300 hours to complete. Now Slough's current artistic endeavor also consumes his days and nights.
"The Deputy Chief of Police in Washington Parish, Olander Smith, contacted me about a project he was in charge of and asked if I knew someone suitable, -- either faculty or a student -- who would be willing to take on the work," Mickey said.
"As an alumnus of the school, I know the quality of work required by students, and Southeastern was the first thing that came to mind when we began our journey," Smith said.
That journey involves construction of a memorial to seven fallen deputies in Washington Parish, dating back to 1899, with a particular emphasis on a case that remains unsolved.
Smith explained that Oneal Moore was the first African American deputy to serve with the Washington Parish Sheriff's Office. Moore was murdered in Varnado in 1965. Two suspects were arrested shortly after the murder, but no charges were ever filed. Smith said the FBI has reopened the case three times since then. The prime suspect died in 2003.
"Jeff approached me and asked if I'd be interested in accepting a commission to work on the memorial and I said yes," said Slough. "For Oneal Moore to want to take those kinds of risks and do that job in 1965 really speaks to his character. He must have been a real stand-up guy."
As Slough began the drafting process, a new problem emerged.
"I only had one picture to work with," he said. "I didn't have a lot of wiggle room, so I had to make it a certain way."
Instead of a full bust, the Moore memorial will be a bronze relief.
"The final, finished product will be a stand that comes out of the ground and then slightly recesses into the wall." said Slough. "The relief will have his face, name, dates of birth and death, and the background will be textured."
The Washington Parish Sheriff's Office is providing the funds for the materials.
Slough plans to attend the ceremony and meet Moore's family.
"My main objective is for Oneal Moore's wife to look at the relief and think it looks like him," Slough said. "If that happens, then I'm going to be happy."
Mickey said he's watched Slough work intricately on this piece and build a connection.
"There has to be an emotional bond between you and the piece you're creating," said Mickey. "Zach is the kind of student who doesn't need a lot of intensive hand holding. He comes to me when he has a problem, and I help mature his ideas."
"You have to fall in love with your work," said Slough. "If you really love something, it's hard to fail at it."