Sculptor Edd Hayes Honors the Fallen in Life-Size Art
Two local soldiers to be memorialized in “The Way Home”
By Melanie Saxton
In 1998 he was named the Official Texas State Sculptor. For the last 20 years his large, outdoor monuments have been featured all over the United States. Meet Edd Hayes, a national sculptor who has maintained a studio and gallery in Spring for the last 12 years. He just recently relocated his studio to Humble, where he has resided for the last 25 years.
Hayes is native Texan with two sons — one an artist and photographer and the other a government official. He’s been commissioned to sculpt the Veterans Memorial Monument honoring two local soldiers who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. The monument, named “The Way Home,” is set to be unveiled on Veteran’s Day in November 2012. The tribute brings together the two friends who had served and died apart.
Hayes is renowned for his extreme attention to detail. He captures every nuance of a subject and brings it to life in ways that touch the heart. “I enjoy creating form,” says Hayes. “Most of my monuments have been inspirational patriotic outdoor pieces and I also enjoy bringing figurative sculptures to life.” His bronze deer are famous in The Woodlands with an entire herd scattered throughout. But it is his immense respect for the military, firefighters, policemen and first responders that fuels the creative vision for his latest large-scale commission.
“The Way Home” is a tribute to PFC Cory Kosters and PFC Zachary Endsley. Cory graduated from The Woodlands High School and was killed in action in Iraq in March 2007. Zachary graduated from Oak Ridge High School in Conroe and was killed in action in July 2007. “I was given the task of coming up with a design and composition for sculpture to become a Veteran’s Memorial for The Woodlands honoring these two young warriors and all who have fallen,” says Hayes. “The parents of each soldier loaned me all their combat uniforms and gear along with stacks of photos. It’s all in my studio for reference to make sure I get all the details right.” Visitors who have seen the maquette (small model) are visibly moved by the precision and exact likeness of each boot, shoulder emblem and patch.
It began with a clay sketch. Cory is profiled from the left at the exact moment he reaches to touch his buddy on the shoulder. Zachary is still in search mode looking off to the right. The title of this sculpture comes from a Bible scripture, Psalms 43:3. “O, send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling.”
“I came up with the idea of having these two buddies together ‘in death’, tracking across a 10-foot sand hill searching for something,” says Hayes. When finally young Cory sees his guiding light, he reaches out to Zachary to let him also know that they have found “The Way Home.”
Hayes was approached years ago by Bill Wingo, chair of the Veterans Memorial project, and asked to create the monument. Interestingly, it was Marlon Kosters, Cory’s father, who suggested Hayes. “It is a project being funded through donations,” says Hayes. “No county or state funding is involved.” Organizations including The Woodlands Art League, the VFW, The Feast of the Artisans and many others are spearheading fundraising. There are 4,500 veterans in The Woodlands, and tiles inscribed with veterans’ names are being sold in commemoration.
With the maquettes complete, Hayes’ next step is to create the life-size version. A mathematical, 3-dimensional enlargement will be be created through a scanning device and fed into a computer. Then the figure will be cut in styrofoam and layered in clay — a decade-old technology that’s still considered new. The sculpture will be cast into bronze via the lost wax casting process, a 2,000-year-old process. The end result will be unveiled in Town Green Park.
Hayes honors heroes through his art. His monument will be an excellent addition to the sculpture collection in The Woodlands, made more meaningful by the many young veterans who are coming home.
“It’s very humbling and gratifying that this heartfelt project is becoming a reality,” says Hayes. “I hope it touches many lives and I’m honored to pay tribute to those who gave their all for our country.”
Find more about Hayes and his sculptures at eddhayes.com. His works of art are featured along with additional information about the Veterans Memorial Monument.