The South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind is feeling the love for the latest addition to Morgan Square’s quirky sculpture collection. The sculpture, created by South Carolina sculptor Bob Doster and with help from students at the school, is a large stainless steel hand making the American Sign Language sign for “I love you.”
The sculpture was unveiled Wednesday morning by school officials with city and state officials, community members and about a dozen students who had participated in the making of the sculpture looking on.
“This sculpture is just super creative. It was really hard to make, but it was really cool,” said student Joshua Perkins, through an interpreter, after the reveal. “All the people that get to come over here and see it now, and they’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ But now, they can show love for each other and for their community and for their families, and they know what it means. I feel like we educated them, and it’s really powerful.”
The sculpture, located to the right of the tiered steps in a small copse of trees, is a patchwork of small hands — some open, others making the “I love you” sign. The students and other community members worked with Doster to trace their hands onto steel sheets and then cut them out. The pieces were then taken to Doster’s workshop in Lancaster to be assembled.
This guy, Bob, when he was making all the hand shapes into this sculpture, I think he did a great job teaching me,” said sixth-grader Aaron Cease, through an interpreter. “I really enjoyed being here. I mean, I didn’t want to stop. I just thought it was such a great thing. He did a great job.”
Josh Padgett, the School for the Deaf and the Blind’s fine arts coordinator, said art teachers had wanted to work with Doster for some time. The $10,000 project was funded by the South Carolina Arts in the Basic Curriculum Project and the S.C. School for the Deaf and the Blind Foundation. A second sculpture was also created and will be placed in the Midlands.
“It was just a great, great project for bringing people together. It showed what synergistic thinking can really create,” Padgett said. “We love the symbol that it is. The students had a great time making it.”
Cathi Holst, a SCSDB graduate and an ASL teacher at the school, said the sculpture was a symbol of equality.
“When you see this hand shape, I want you all to remember that it represents a barrier-free access to language,” Holst said through an interpreter. “Even though there are hearing people who may be able to sign and others that may not be able to sign, we have one hand shape that they may be able to use with family and friends to let them know that they love them.”
Morgan Square is the long-term home of the I Love You sculpture.