(WVUE) - He comes from a small town in Louisiana that you've probably never heard of. But artist Jerry Gorum is one of the most prolific sculptors in the state. FOX 8's Dave McNamara takes us to his hometown to meet the artist in tonight's Heart of Louisiana
It only takes a few minutes to drive through the small town of Glenmora, population 1,300. But it's a place that Gorum has called home for most of his life.
"We didn't know we were poor people," Gorum said. "Everybody in our community lived about the same way, and we raised most of the things we ate, we drew our water out of a well, and we obtained our milk directly from the cow. Daddy gave us a good work ethic."
At age 74, Gorum still works hard because he's doing something he loves. As a child, he enjoyed art but left college to work in finance. Gorum owned his own finance company and was a bank vice president. But when he turned 45, he decided to start over.
"I told my wife, I said look, I want to go into my art full-time," Gorum said. "I don't want to wait until I'm 80 years old sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of some nursing home saying I wish I would've tried that."
With his wife's support, he started painting and then discovered sculpture.
"A three-dimensional sculpture has to be good art - 360 degrees," he said. "To me, it's a little bit more difficult, but it's a lot more rewarding."
Gorum now casts his art in bronze.
"We're still enjoying some of the Roman sculpture that was done before Christ was born," he said. "If you're going to do something that's going to be around from now on, do it in bronze."
You can find Gorum sculptures all over Louisiana. He did this statue in downtown Eunice, commemorating the city's namesake. At the Tunica-Biloxi tribal center in Marksville, portrait busts of all the tribes chiefs are Gorum's.
This will become a bronze monument in a Veterans Plaza in New Iberia. Creating the finished bronze sculpture takes about a year. And all starts with a smaller bronze maquette. Gorum said the customer decides on the final design.
"I do it to where they are happy with the clay, because what's in the clay is going to be exactly what ends up in bronze," Gorum said.
When you create a bronze statue, there is satisfaction in knowing that it can last for thousands of years. But more important to Gorum is helping others discover their own passion for sculpture.
"If I have a legacy, I would want it to be that I did everything I could to pass this process along to other artists," he said.