ASU’s sculpting program has built-in incentives, including a nationally recognized foundry, White said. Tuition can be offset by grants, scholarships and teaching stipends, and students often leave the program with little or no debt, he said. MFA students also receive studio space at Grant Street Studios in Phoenix’s warehouse district, giving their work better visibility and an opportunity to create in an environment with other artists.
When Tuomisto-Bell received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1991, he envisioned himself as a “player in the New York scene, but that success never materialized.”
He did, however, find a place in the Arizona workforce, casting large and small bronze pieces for commercial clients with local foundries. He opened his own shop in 2001 with his wife, Julie, and brother Christian Bell. He said the Tuomisto-Bell Studio Foundry has provided steady income for years, enabling him buy a house and raise a family.
He also developed into an award-wining artist, with works on display across the U.S. and major collections in the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, the Mesa Arts Center and the Shemer Art Center in Phoenix.
"We're thrilled that John decided to pursue graduate work at ASU," Herberger Institute Dean Steven J. Tepper said. "As an established professional artist, he brings a lot to the program, and it's gratifying to watch his progress as an artist in his time here. Most careers these days morph and change and take unexpected directions; John is one of several students, undergraduate and graduate, who have decided to return to a university, and to the Herberger Institute in particular, to forge new pathways. "
Tuomisto said the master’s program has sharpened his skills while expanding his scope.
Last year, he took the 1,000 Cranes project to an elementary school in Hiroshima, Japan, in memory of a young girl who became sick and died after the infamous atomic bomb blast at the end of World War II. She was said to have continuously folded origami cranes, praying that if she made 1,000 her health would improve.
“Some people have told me that you can’t do anything about the violence of mankind, that war has always been a part of our existence and will always be,” Tuomisto-Bell said. “I do not think this is true. I just look at how Hiroshima has transformed from the ashes of war into a beautiful city full of wonderful, loving people, and my hope in mankind is restored.”
Tuomisto-Bell brought back the concept to Tempe in the hopes that “peace can be heard from this generation and future generations.”
See the installation
Address: 450 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, 85281
Viewers can see 1,000 Cranes from the public sidewalk behind Building 3 on the State Farm at Marina Heights campus.
Other influential sculptors
• 2015 MFA sculpture grad Cecily Culver won the 2015 Dedalus Foundation Fellowship in Painting and Sculpture, which included a $20,000 grant and a studio to showcase her work in New York.
• 2014 MFA sculpting student Bobby Zokaites has produced artwork for public spaces in Minnesota, New Jersey, Missouri and Arizona.
• Incoming MFA sculpting student Cydnei Mallory is a 2016-17 Autodesk Scholarship winner. It will enable her to travel to Italy to learn the craft of carving stone and marble. Her works have been exhibited in several galleries in Pennsylvania and Arizona.