Marvin Herard: Art and the Power of Community

Written by Caren Gussoff Sumption

Sculptor Marvin Herard has been creating art for more than 7 decades — and he has no intention of stopping now. “I’ll be 94 in July,” he tells me, in a clear voice, “and I still just like to make things.” He’s moved from metalwork to paper, “…for obvious reasons,” but, he insists, “I’m so very lucky. I have always gotten to do what I want to do.”

Mr. Herard repeats this, multiple times, as we talk: how lucky he’s been, how things just fell into place for him. But I’m struck by the obvious humility: no one receives full scholarships to the University of Washington and Cranbrook Academy of Art, is awarded the prestigious Fulbright to study metal foundry in Florence, becomes a professor of fine art at Seattle University, or amasses a ground-breaking body of work by fortune alone. I mention this to Mr. Heard, but he waves it off; he credits his wife and 5 children for giving him support throughout his career, and all the connections he’s made, both professionally and in his local community, for constantly feeding him inspiration.

In fact, Mr. Herard actively cultivated his connections to his community throughout his life. He’s a native Washingtonian, born and raised, who loved travel, but always returned to his Pacific Northwest. He appreciated getting a global perspective through his international colleagues at Seattle U, but also spent decades waking up at the crack of dawn to deliver newspapers. Not for the paycheck, but for the exercise, and, he explains, the unique opportunity to really get to know his neighbors. “I knew and saw people, in good times and in hard ones,” he says. “There was always value around the corner, things I didn’t expect.”

Mr. Herard encourages young artists to develop those same kinds of community and global connections. “Talk to people,” he says. “You don’t have to agree with them. But squeeze what you can out of life.” In a world increasingly connected, yet divided by partisan issues, it’s an excellent reminder that we should all stay open and stay curious. “You look for that piece of the puzzle,” Mr. Herard mused. “But the puzzle and the piece are the same thing.”

Some of Marvin Herard’s bronze panel work may be viewed as part of the city of Renton’s permanent collection at Fire Station 14, located at 1900 Lind Ave S.

Renton is home to a vibrant arts scene where you will find a growing collection of city-owned art on display throughout the city.

The majority of the city’s collection is permanently located and readily accessible to the public. You are invited to visit your art collection, and enjoy the varied artworks that belong to the people of Renton.