'Humble' Hampton sculptor recognized by newest senator
A Hampton artist is being recognized as an "unsung hero" with an award from New Brunswick's newest senator — even if the sculptor doesn't think it's a fitting description.
"I can't stay out of the paper or the radio," said Jim Boyd, chuckling.
"I wouldn't go as far as 'unsung hero' but it's nice to be recognized."
Boyd said he received an email from Sen. David Adams Richards's office a few months back letting him know he was one of 12 recipients Richards chose to receive a Senate 150th Anniversary Medal.
Perhaps best known for his large, outdoor sculptures sprinkled throughout communities in southern New Brunswick, Boyd has tutored many students through local symposiums and his day job as an art teacher at Hampton High School.
His newest statue, Burgeon, which means to flourish and grow, sits in Hampton. His statues are typically somewhat abstract in nature but incorporate elements of nature.
The medal commemorates the 150 years since Canada's Senate sat for the first time and honours those who have improved their region of Canada.
The Senate of Canada's web page describes the award as being for, "Canada's unsung heroes."
Each senator received 12 of these medals to give away as they see fit.
The medals, while seemingly inconspicuous, drew controversy in late November after some senators were found to have accepted medals for themselves.
Richards, an award-winning writer of fiction and non-fiction, became one of New Brunswick's 10 senators in August.
He is not one of the senators who accepted the anniversary medal. Additionally, not all senators were on board with the idea of awarding medals because they considered the project too expensive.
Boyd said he doesn't know Richards or know how his name came up as a candidate for the medal.
Description suits him
But Diana Alexander, executive director for Sculpture Saint John, said Boyd deserves the recognition.
"He's always so giving as far as our interns are concerned," she said. "He's patient with them.
"He's quiet, unassuming and humble."
Alexander remembers fondly when her organization bused 1,200 students into the city one summer. Boyd was captured on camera sitting on the ground talking to children about art.
"He touches so many people with his work and his gentle, kind way," she said.
Painter Maggie Higgins, who worked under Boyd during a sculpting symposium in 2016, remembers when she returned to Saint John from art school.
She wasn't making much money, she said, and Boyd was the first to buy one of her pieces.
"He always comes to any exhibit," she said. "I think he does that for a lot of his students."
A lot of deserving artists
The senator did not comment on Boyd's award, saying he'd give a statement at a ceremony in mid-January.
Boyd said he wasn't told much about why he was chosen either, only that it was his art and his contribution to the community that made him stand out.
"I was quite surprised," he said, describing when he first heard the news .
"I could probably think of 15 to 20 other people equally deserving, if not more."
But for Higgins, it's clear why Boyd, his sculptures and his contributions are being recognized.
Working with stone is a battle between the artist and nature, she said.
Despite this, Boyd works on large scales, cutting away at the rock until he reveals what he wants.
"They're these kind of giant tributes to where we live and where we're from."