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Goddess of Wisdom Graces BIS

By Meadow Hilley, TIE Editor
Goddess of Wisdom Graces BIS

At over two meters in height and five in width, Sophia is a big presence on campus. With eyes and hands raised to the sky, as if to contemplate and receive divine wisdom, this monumental steel sculpture designed by artist Gavin Worth in collaboration with thirty tenth-grade students from the Bavarian International School now occupies a permanent place between the wildflowers and blue skies of Haimhausen, Germany.
Inspired by the personification of wisdom from antiquity who turned ignorance into fire, Sophia resembles a freestanding line drawing, a style characteristic of the aesthetic Worth has developed over the past decade in creating and installing large-scale public sculptures all over the world.
While his design work has won him international acclaim and contracts with the likes of Tiffany & Co and Ralph Lauren, Worth has no formal training in art, having graduated with a degree in acting and worked for years in California’s Shakespearean theater circuit.
“Being self-taught has always made me realize that art is very learnable,” says Worth, who claims his proudest achievement was winning the 1987 Las Cruces Nintendo Championships at the age of six with one arm in a cast following a rattlesnake bite. “Visual art often has a mystique surrounding it... a notion that if you aren’t naturally good at it, you’re out of luck. But I believe very passionately that anyone who wants to can learn how to draw, to paint, and to sculpt—to express themselves visually.”
The project was conceived by Elizabeth King, IB Art teacher at the Bavarian International School (BIS), in conjunction with her colleague Sarah Proudler, both as a means of introducing sculpture to her students and as a first step in populating BIS’s new sculpture garden.
Students collaborated with Worth throughout the entire process. Over the course of two intensely rewarding weeks in April and May 2015, they developed concept sketches, produced client presentations, and perfected a final design before commencing the building phase of this large-scale sculpture.
“Practical experience is much more effective in the context of learning about techniques, tools, and skills than theory,” said Christine Laurich, a 16 year-old participant. “Theory suffices for the basic knowledge, but hands-on experience makes an imprint on you with a lasting effect.”
Learning to safely manipulate torches, angle grinders, and other heavy tools, Laurich and her peers bent and shaped over 100 steel rods, then welded, cleaned, and installed the final piece.
“The first 3D sculpture installation in our new BIS Student Sculpture Garden is an inspiring addition to our campus,” writes BIS Director Chrissie Sorenson. “I am so pleased that our Grade 10 students had the opportunity to further develop their creative and collaborative skills with a professional artist, Mr. Gavin Worth. This was an enriching, hands-on learning experience culminating in a celebration of student work that will now be on permanent display.”
Worth was a finalist for the 2014 TED Fellowship for his commitment to helping young people find their way into expression. In three years at the American International School Egypt, he saw three Presidents come and go. Worth currently teaches Visual Art in the Middle Years Program at the International School of Lausanne, where his wife, Denise Worth, is also a teacher.
For more information about Gavin Worth, visit
View a video of the students at work on YouTube at “Bavarian International School Workshop Video”.

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