Two studio art alumni receive honorary degree during UVM Commencement 2016
- By Simone Blaise-Glaunsinger
Richard Erdman, University of Vermont Class of 1975, is an acclaimed sculptor working in marble and bronze. An artist with a strong international following, he has had more than 160 solo and group exhibitions throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. In 1985, PepsiCo commissioned him to create the monumental sculpture Passage, which stands at the entrance of the esteemed Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens at PepsiCo, considered to be one of the finest collections of twentieth century outdoor sculpture worldwide. Carved from a massive 450-ton block of travertine, the 25-by-16 foot Passage is the largest sculpture in the world carved from a single block of marble. A two-time All-American skier in his undergraduate years at the University of Vermont and a 1989 Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, Erdman pursued his early career in art with the same passion and energy he expressed as an athlete. Connecting with skilled artisans in the famed marble region of Carrara, Italy, at the start of his master’s studies set his focus on stone sculpture. Once he began working with Italian marble, the physical vigor and mental focus that he had committed to athletics were directed to sculpture. His nuanced understanding of the materials with which he sculpts have led to the creation of a prolific body of work, from intimate maquettes to monumental sculptures weighing up to 50 tons, held in collections in 50 countries worldwide.
William Ruprecht, University of Vermont Class of 1980, is internationally recognized in the world of fine art collecting for his extensive knowledge and his personal manner of conducting business. He presided as president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board of Sotheby’s, the premier global art auction house, from 2000 to 2015, overseeing a worldwide art business across 40 countries and broadening the company’s focus to include private gallery sales and global education programs. Under his leadership Sotheby’s expanded beyond its traditional markets to open new offices in Beijing, Moscow, Istanbul and Doha, and began bringing to the market an impressive portfolio of contemporary young artists. Starting as a summer temp worker, he rose through the ranks, first as an Oriental carpet expert and then to being named lead auctioneer. He became known for his Old World touch, personally reaching out to buyers following an auction to acknowledge and congratulate them. He was appointed president and CEO in 2000, tasked with saving the centuries-old Sotheby’s from failure following a notorious price-fixing scandal. Sotheby’s resurged, with revenues climbing by 74 percent from 2000 to 2012. Ruprecht’s extensive experience in the worlds of art and business have been generously offered to the University of Vermont in his service as a university trustee, a founding board member of the University of Vermont Foundation, and in his ongoing service to the Foundation Leadership Council. On the occasion of his daughter’s graduation from the University of Vermont in 2011, Ruprecht established the Mollie Ruprecht Fund for Visual Arts to continue deepening the discussion and appreciation of art as a means for exploring life and cross-cultural experience.