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GARDNER — The art department at Mount Wachusett Community College is raising funds to acquire a sculpture by former MWCC professor Gene Cauthen, who helped establish the school’s art department.

Cauthen was an accomplished artist and the first sculpture professor at MWCC. He dedicated 35 years to teaching sculpture and bronze casting while inspiring countless students, according to Joyce Miller, a professor in the art department at MWCC.

Cauthen, who died last year, was instrumental in helping to establish the college’s art program as well as the East Wing Gallery as a cultural center for the North Central Massachusetts community.

“Gene was one of the most optimistic and positive faculty. He always offered encouragement to students and colleagues, and had a great eye for seeing potential in students and their art; often where others may not,” said Miller.

Cauthen continued to teach mold making and bronze casting long after many universities and colleges discontinued teaching the techniques, according to Miller.

The college continues that tradition to this day, offering bronze casting classes every year. Many universities are now returning to create courses in mold making and casting again, said Miller. The fundraising effort aims to raise enough money to acquire the “Small Bather” bronze by Cauthen for the Art Department’s Permanent Collection of Art.

This collection is referenced by students as they learn artistic techniques, according to Miller who maintains the gallery.

“It will be on exhibit for students, faculty, staff and the community to enjoy and be used in teaching bronze casting to future students,” said Miller, who is also the East Wing Gallery director. Donations can be made at support.mwcc.edu/genecauthen.

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