When thinking about grants awarded for student research, an undergraduate, let alone a sculpture student isn’t typically who comes to mind. Myles Howell, now a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) student in Utah State University’s Department of Art and Design and professional sculptor, broke expectations. In 2012, he received a Summer Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities grant that allowed him to pursue an opportunity essential to his career.

Howell applied for a SURCO grant to fund his participation in Marble Marble, a stone carving symposium in Marble, Colorado.

“The entry fee is nine hundred dollars,” Howell said. “It comes with a lot of additional expenses such as travel and camping.”

As a student working part time, there was no way Howell could afford such an expense. Luckily, SURCO grants are designed to provide opportunities to undergraduates otherwise outside of their grasp.

“The Summer Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities grant was established to give students across disciplines the opportunity to work on jobs and tasks related to their future careers,” said Scott Bates, associate vice president for undergraduate research. “That we could support a pinnacle moment in Myles’ professional development, marks success for this program.”

The funding allowed Howell to purchase a “big block of stone” and participate in the symposium. Artists have eight days to carve three cubic feet, or about five hundred pounds, of stone into a piece that is shown publicly.

Howell advises other arts students in need of funding to do all the research they can and talk to their professors and department heads about the opportunities available at USU.

Howell transferred to USU from Utah Valley University in 2009 to complete his undergraduate degree. Although he began his career as a painter, he quickly switched to sculpting after taking an introductory sculpting course from his professor and mentor, Ryoichi Suzuki.

“I fell in love with the medium and switched from painting to three-dimensional art,” he said.

After completing his bachelor’s degree and researching other schools both domestically and abroad, Howell decided to continue his education under Suzuki, one of the only active stone carving professors in the United States. As he nears the end of his MFA program, Howell has demonstrated continued success.

Since his time in Colorado, Howell has participated in an international show in Tsukuba, Japan. With only a month to prepare the work, Howell rose to the challenge, transporting his sculpture in a carry-on bag due to the lack of time to ship a larger piece. He described the show as a great success with lots of international students participating.

After finishing his MFA, Howell plans to continue his career as a sculptor with the end goal of getting into public work, such as large-scale stone sculptures that people can climb and play on.

– Meg Schneider – Project Management and Communications: