OTTAWA — Putnam County native Nate Elkins used his love for creating things and art to construct two sculptures that honor veterans on the outside of the Kerner-Slusser American Legion Post 63 building in Ottawa.
Elkins, 43, is the son of Larry and Miriam Elkins and is the son-in-law of Ed Foreman, legion commander. Elkins is a 1994 graduate of Continental High School and earned a degree in animation in 2002 from Full Sail University, a private school in Florida.
Foreman said the legion put up flagpoles to honor veterans last year and the sculptures compliment that project on Main Street.
“When we put the flagpoles out front the windows were plain and I showed the sketches to the trustees at the legion and they all went along with it,” Foreman said.
Elkins said the sculptures are a way to celebrate the American Legion Centennial Celebration Sept. 21 and 22.
“This is a great way to use art to enhance the aesthestics of the building and to honor veterans,” Elkins said. He began the project in January and finished it the second week of June after discussing his idea for the sculptures last fall with legion members.
Elkins works at the University of Toledo in orthopedics where he uses art in his job and completes medical illustrations.
“The sculptures are made of a wax-based clay and once that was done I casted the sculptures,” Elkins said. The first sculpture is of a Vietnam-era soldier with a machine gun that has a statement that reads “Honor Our Veterans” and has the American Legion emblem with a red, white and blue painted flag.
The second sculpture is of a soldier kneeling with a battle cross and reads “Honor Their Sacrifice Never Forget.”
He sculpted the clay by hand using sculpting tools. There was a molding process used to create the final stone sculptures that are made of stone and fiber glass.
Elkins’ father Larry served in Vietnam and his grandfather Rex Schafer served in World War II and he hopes the sculptures will connect with veterans.
He said he has gotten positive feedback on the sculptures from children whose relatives were veterans and passed away.
“They tell me how much their father would have enjoyed this and that is the biggest thing I enjoyed hearing that reaction. I wanted those to not have to see the words Honor Our Veterans to know that you should do that,” Elkins said.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.