26 February 2009: In the comic strip Captain America is agile, buff and larger than life. In Alasdair Macintyre's world however he is a little leaner, a lot smaller, and African American. The Visual Arts Lecturer at Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Brisbane Campus was this week named as one of the finalists in the Wynne Prize, for his sculpture of Captain America.
The Wynne Prize for landscape or figure sculpture is held at the Art Gallery of NSW in conjunction with the Archibald Prize for portraits and the Sulman Prize for subject, genre or mural painting.
“I really didn't expect to make it to the finals,” Alasdair said. “I've entered enough competitions to know that you should just send it away and then forget about it, and if you hear back in the positive it is a very pleasant surprise.”
About 28cm tall, the sculpture is made of polymer clay, polyester resin and wood, and took about three weeks to make.
“There was a lot of sanding and repainting involved to get the muscle tone just right,” Alasdair said. “The real Captain America is massively muscular, but the one I made is slimmer and more Barack Obama-like.”
The Carina resident, who also completed his own degree at ACU, said he had always wanted to do a Captain America piece in some form.
“With the election of Obama – the first African American man in the White House – it just seemed like the perfect time to do it.
“Captain America was originally a creation from America's involvement in World War II, and is a symbol of overblown patriotism. I twisted the meaning by making the hitherto Caucasian Captain America, an African American.
“I also used the symbol of the star quite strongly, and both these points align with the new American president – both African American, and a star.”
The Wynne Prize was first awarded in 1897, in honour of the official opening of the Art Gallery of New South Wales at its present site, and the winner receives $25,000. Winners will be announced on 6 March 2009.