The impact of Salvatore Aleto Jr.’s upbringing in Creston led him on an unusual journey of self-expression and ultimately, success.
Aleto, a 2004 Creston High School graduate, will be exhibiting his hand-forged jewelry and cast metal sculptures this month at Creston:Arts Gallery.
On display this month at Creston:Arts Gallery, Aleto will feature two sculptural works titled “Millennial” and “Newborn — Generation Z.”
Aleto said each sculpture took more than 1,000 hours to complete.
“Millennial” is a cast bronze sculpture, which, counting the base, stands approximately seven feet tall.
Aleto said this sculpture was created through the “lost wax” casting process, where a three dimensional sculpture is first created in clay, plaster, wood or stone.
The process involves covering this sculpture in liquid rubber to create a rubber mold. The rubber mold is then removed and layers of wax are painted meticulously inside resulting in a hollow wax sculpture. Once the wax is set, a ceramic shell, typically, is built up around the wax sculpture with tubes protruding to eventually melt the wax out and pour the molten bronze in. The ceramic is removed to expose a bronze cast.
Aleto describes this process as a “traditional” approach, dating back 5,000 years.
Aleto said “Newborn -Generation Z,” created through a process called electro-forming, was inspired by Constantin Brancusi’s “Newborn” sculpture — a metaphor for birth.
“It’s kind of a lab-grown baby,” said Aleto. “The original object that it is made from is not what you see. You see a shell of that original object.”
Aleto said carving the original sculpture took up to 12 hours, spent 60 hours in a chemical bath followed by 30 hours of filing, sanding and polishing.
Aleto creates small objects from metal and wood, too. This month, Aleto will have hand-forged rings on display and for sale.
About the artist
Aleto said it was classes at Southwestern Community College, where he really discovered his love of art.
“I really enjoyed the art program at SWCC,” said Aleto. “I took a couple classes with Sherice Buzzard and that really got me interested.”
After Aleto received an Associate of Arts degree from Southwestern Community College, he continued on to University of Iowa, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy, and a second bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Currently, Aleto is a Master of Fine Arts candidate focused on jewelry and metal arts with a minor in sculpture. He also is a graduate level instructor at University of Iowa, where he teaches elements of jewelry and metal art for non-art majors, a teaching assistant in casting and hot metals and teaches an educational psychology, testing and measurements course.
“I love teaching because my students are my greatest teachers,” said Aleto. “They are always challenging me with questions and to think of things I wouldn’t think of on my own.”
Aleto’s exhibit is titled “Impact” — a reflection on the people who have influenced his work.
In an artist statement, Aleto said the most “beautiful” thing he can imagine is “you, the audience.”
“Without your participation in my life, whether friend or family ... peer or passerby, you have influenced my experience of this world, of this life, far more than any words could ever express. This is your impact.”
From the railroad nails he displays his jewelry on to the career path he has chosen to follow — a hint of inspiration of his years in Creston can be found.
Creston:Arts Council invites the public to attend Aleto’s opening night at an artist’s reception at Creston:Arts Gallery from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight at Creston:Arts Gallery, 116 W. Adams. St. For more information about Aleto and his work, visit www.metaleto.com.