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Alex Forden '06: 'Life leading up to my senior year was a search for place'

Some college students, contemplating the trials of young adulthood, might withdraw within themselves and silently reflect. Others find it therapeutic to express themselves.

So when Alexander Forden ’06, an art major, decided to use his senior thesis to explore his identity and his passage to adulthood, to say he wasn’t afraid to share with the world would be an understatement. "I was interested in how big we could go," he explains.

He was able to go life-size. His project, "Before the Rally of Spirit," which took Forden his entire senior year to complete, is a bronze casting of himself, naked, his back arched, arms down, mouth relaxed and palms open.

"Life leading up to my senior year was a search for ‘place,’" Forden explains. "The sculpture is a representation of many transitional periods of my youth. The materials, scale and weight of the sculpture represent stability and a pivotal resting point while the form suggests something more emotional."

Forden’s adviser, Assistant Professor of Art Greg Bailey, worked closely with his student to make the project happen, even bringing it to his home studio so Forden could finish it there. "This was the single biggest student project that I ever advised," Bailey says. But he was happy to help, he adds, because Forden was "tremendously hard-working."

The provocative sculpture caught the attention of Lee Hisle, vice president for information services and librarian of the College, who arranged to lease it from Forden. It has stood in the southeast corner of Shain Library’s first floor since Forden graduated.

Now working in construction management in New York City, Forden started an M.B.A. program at Baruch College’s Zichlin School of Business this fall. He’s going part time so he can keep working in the construction industry. "I want to open my own construction and architecture firm," says Forden, who attributes his interest in the field to classes in drafting and design at Connecticut College.

Ultimately, when Shain’s lease runs out, Forden will have to move his sculpture again. There’s no room in his Manhattan apartment for a bronze alter ego, weighing in at 350 pounds. But Bailey lives near campus, Forden says. "I asked him, how do you feel about a garden sculpture?"

- Phoebe Hall

Read the full story in the fall issue of CC: Connecticut College Magazine.

August 27, 2009