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Sisters mold out national careers as sculptors

Updated:
LAWTON, Okla. (AP) -- It may not be unusual that two sisters from
Lawton might have the same occupation, but it is unusual that both
are sculptors -- with commissions -- who didn't begin their craft
until in their 40s.

While the sisters, Jane Rankin, 54, of Monument, Colo., and
Andrea Wilkinson, 50, of Kingwood, Texas, both sculpt, one
specializes in children and the other specializes in animals.

The sisters grew up in Lawton and both graduated from Lawton
High School.

Ms. Rankin is the one who sculpts images of children. She casts
her realistic figurative sculptures in bronze.

Asked why she sculpted children, Ms. Rankin said, "They sell
well. People also tell me they think I do children's faces very
well.

"A lot of sculpture makes children look like little adults,"
she said. "I like to capture the happiness in their faces. People
become more inhibited and self absorbed as they grow older.
Children don't have that."

Another reason Ms. Rankin likes to sculpt children is that she
adores them.

"I used to be a schoolteacher," she said. "I'm also a mother
and a grandmother, and I really like children."

Ms. Rankin began sculpting about eight years ago, after
enrolling in a few sculpture workshops.

"It's like it lit a fire somehow," she said of the classes.

When she creates a piece, she works with petroleum-based clay.
After the piece is built, she makes mold of it, using the lost wax
process -- a process that was used 2,000 year ago.

Since beginning the art of sculpture, Ms. Rankin has acquired
two private commissions and two public commissions.

One of her commissions is "Join the Parade," a makeshift band
of six children, which rests on the town hall lawn in Cary, N.C.

She also has created limited editions. She received her first
commission in April 1997.

Her work has been included in many juried and invitational shows
and can be found in several galleries in the Southwest.

Among her commissions and collections are "The Reader,"
"Morris the Dragon" and "Little Scholar."

Ms. Wilkinson not only works in bronze, but cement and fired
clay.

She said she is not surprised that she is involved in sculpture
like her sister.

"We've participated in workshops together in Taos," N.M., she
said.

However, unlike her sister, who has been involved in the art for
eight years, Ms. Wilkinson has only been sculpting for three years.

She does not find it odd that she would turn to sculpting as an
art, because she has drawn since childhood.

"I've always drawn, ever since I was a little kid," she said.
"Later on, I painted and made dolls. I haven't painted lately,
because I haven't had a lot of time. I do try to draw, though,
because that goes with sculpture."

Ms. Wilkinson said she did not plan to become a sculptor.

"I don't know that I gave a lot of thought to it happening
(sculpture), but there are a lot of animals out there, and people
have their favorites," Ms. Wilkinson said. "It's nice when they
think of you."

Ms. Wilkinson, who also has a degree in zoology, said she has
always been interested in animals -- that's why she sculpts them.

Besides sculpting, her interest in animals has led her to work
as a volunteer at the Houston Zoological Gardens, where she is a
docent.

In keeping with the sculpting of animals, she recently cast a
grizzly bear for a couple in Houston.

"It was a gift from her to him for his office," she said.

Currently, Ms. Wilkinson, who also uses the lost-wax process, is
working on a commission that involves casting two life-sized images
of lion cubs wrestling with each other.

They will be displayed at the zoo, where she works.

Anyone interested in seeing the sisters' sculptures will find
them at the "Heart and Soul of the Great Plains" exhibit, which
is sponsored by the Leslie Powell Foundation and set for Nov. 20
through Feb. 22 at the Museum of the Great Plains.

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