Plans for Merged Campuses, Teaching, Busy UR Sculptor
by Pete Tarrant
© 1954, Reprinted from The Campus, Rochester, New York

A strong conviction that a statue must tell a stoy seems to sum up the work of University Sculptor William Ehrich.

Exemplifying this conviction is Mr. Ehrich's feeling about the Eastman Memorial, which he designed and sculptured, and which was set in the middle of the quadrangle last June. He believes that the Memorial is the whole theme of the quadrangle; that from it, along the channels of the radiating sidewalks, flows the life of the University.

Mr. Ehrich leads a very intersting life. He was born in Germany and later studied in Königsberg, then capital of East Prussia. In the first World War he was held prisoner for two years. Before coming to America in 1929, he traveled throughout Germany. He has been a citizen of this country since 1934. After working for the Memorial Art Gallery for one year, he joined the faculty of the University in 1937.

Mr. Ehrich has been in this country for less than thirty years and in that time he has seen a great deal of cultural improvement, he explained briefly. There has been a rapid development of the fine arts. We live in a renaissance of culture including painting, sculpture and music. Frequent exhibits by art galleries, and large attendance at operas and symphonies are some of the bases for his judgments.

Mr. Ehrich noted the fact that men generally make better artists than women, in Europe for example. Also men in America are brought up differently and as a result, proportionately fewer become artists here than do in Europe.

Assisting the Sites and Traditions Committee of the University, Mr. Ehrich has selected a site behind Burton and Crosby Dormitories for the statue of former president Martin Brewer Anderson, now on Prince St. The need for a design on the north wall of the new Women's gymnasium facing River Blvd., was met by a dandelion design by Mr. Ehrich. His design, called " A Sunburst in Stainless Steel", was conceived from a painting of a dandelion and from a large chandelier in Munro dormitory.

The ancient art of sculpturing in stone and wood has gone modern. The new dandelion, as an example, has a hammered copper base, baked with a yellow enamel finish. This enamel serves a double purpose of reflecting light, which is scarce on the north wall, and also of protecting the design from the elements. Mr. Ehrich and his eleven year old son, who is very interested in sculpturing, worked three months during the summer baking the 100 odd pieces comprising this flower.

Contrary to the habits of most University of Rochester students, Mr. Ehrich finds that he can work much better during the day. Such tasks as he undertakes, call for complete concentration and he finds that this is only possible when he is alone and while he is still alert and fresh. Often, he will mold in clay, while thinking of the end result as being in bronze. If this is the case he must allow for certain details in one instance and overlook others that he would normally consider.

A section of the basement of Carnegie Dormitory has been transformed into a haven of realism and abstraction. Mr. Ehrich's studio is lined with valuable, prize winning statues, ceramics and drawings, all his own work, which he looks upon with a justifiable sense of pride. In the annual Spring Exhibitions held at Buffalo, Ehrich is a consistent winner in the sculpture, ceramics and drawing divisions. Exhibitions in Kansas City, New York City, Syracuse, Rochester and the Finger Lakes Region have been host to many of the same works that are in his studio today.

Mr. Ehrich teaches a unique course in creative sculpturing. The small class meets in one of the studios adjacent to his own. He enjoys teaching because of the enthusiasm shown by the students and the understanding of fine arts that they receive from the course. He is looking forward to teaching on the River Campus with the hope of getting more men interested in his course, his only regret being the necessity of moving out of the studio of which he has grown so fond.