Every year since its founding in 2013, ManneqART has been collecting sculptural artwork from artists around the nation and bringing them to Howard County for its annual Sculptural Artwork competition. More than 250 items from 120-plus artists have been displayed at a variety of locations.

This year, ManneqART will be showing 50 new items, plus some of the best from the past, at eight county locations, including: The Mall in Columbia, Columbia Art Center, Howard County Arts Council, North Laurel Community Center, Gary J. Arthur Community Center, Robinson Nature Center, and The Queen’s Ink store at Historic Savage Mill. Plans for showing some of the art items at the Tourism Welcome Center in Ellicott City have been postponed due to recent flooding.

But Why?

Lee Andersen, Manneq­ART founder and co-owner of Andersen Becker North Laurel, manufacturer of Lee Andersen wearable art clothing, answered the question of why these pieces are brought to the county.

“It doesn’t have to hang on the wall to be serious, legitimate art,” she explained. “No one would argue that sculpture is not art. We’re simply presenting sculpture on the human form.” It has to be wearable and fit through a doorway to qualify for the ManneqART competition.

“There are hundreds of sculptural artists around the world, and we’re excited about showing some of their works in our hometown,” she said. ManneqART also shows its collections in other locations such as at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., and at the Hair Ball Parade at the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.

“There is growing interest in sculpture on the human form in our community and elsewhere,” Andersen noted. This year’s competition includes artwork from Howard County and Anne Arundel County students, from world-class artists involved in global competitions, from amateur and professional artists around the U.S. and many others.

Last year’s grand prize winner Robert Reed, an international flight attendant for a major airline, recently had his 2015 ManneqART entry “OMGeode” accepted into the New Zealand World of Wearable Art competition, which attracts the best artwork in the world.

“We are so proud that one of our original ManneqART artists is being recognized on the world stage,” said Andersen.

Interest Is Increasing

ManneqART’s mission is to inspire creativity, promote problem-solving skills and reward excellence in sculpture on the human form. Artists use a variety of materials, often from their attics or basements, to produce their creations.

ManneqART announces four themes each year for the artists to choose from, and presents $10,000 in awards to the best in each theme and to middle and high school, and college level (emerging) student artists.

“We are seeing more student interest each year,” explained Andersen, “and we’ve had enthusiastic support from county art teachers such as Greg English at Reservoir H.S. and Michael Bell at Southern High School in Anne Arundel County. The skill level and creativity we see from some students is incredible.” ManneqART also does workshops each year to teach sculpture art skills and creative design.

ManneqART is working with Howard County’s Office of Tourism to promote its events to potential visitors to the county. “We have world-class artworks right here in Howard County on display at multiple locations for two weeks in September,” said Al Scolnik, ManneqART’s executive director. “If you love to look at unique artworks, and you learn that 50-plus artworks will be on display in Howard County, why wouldn’t you jump in the car and visit our community for a day? While you’re visiting, you’ll probably purchase food, snacks, drinks and more. All good for Howard County,” he concluded.

The Gala

Scolnik also said that ManneqART will hold this year’s Annual Awards Gala at the Ten Oaks Ballroom in Clarksville on Sunday, Oct. 30 — the day before Halloween.

“We’ll be introducing our award winners and sponsors, and this year we’re doing a ManneqART Masquerade party with artworks on live models, fully made up and walking to great music, he said. “We’ll also have a variety of original masks for people to wear. It’s going to be a really fun and unique party [that] people will be talking about on Monday morning.” Tickets are available at www.ManneqART.org for $85.

ManneqART is a small arts and education nonprofit that depends on contributions and artwork sponsorships to deliver its mission goals. Major goals are to attract the best wearable artists in the country; participate in more exhibitions and other events around Maryland, the region and eventually the U.S.; and expand the ManneqART website into an interactive clearinghouse for ideas and information about wearable art, wearable artists and arts events around the world.

“We’re happy that we live in Howard County, and we want to help make the arts community as vibrant as possible,” said Andersen.

Information about artist participation, volunteering, contributing and other ways of supporting ManneqART is available at www.manneqart.org or by calling Al Scolnik at 301-778-0616.