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University of Cincinnati College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumnus Tom Tsuchiya’s Monumental Achievements

Sculptor Tom Tsuchiya (classic civilization, '95) shares talents, love of& classics with the public.

Date: 10/5/2016
By: Camri Nelson
Phone: (513) 556-4350
Photos By: Provided
University of Cincinnati College of Arts and Sciences Classics graduate and newly awarded Distinguished Alumni Award winner Tom Tsuchiya credits his background in liberal arts for much of his global successes. 

Tsuchiya received the College of Arts and Sciences’ 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award for his outstanding craftsmanship and highly publicized works throughout the years. 

Tsuchiya discovered his artistic talents as a child when he made sculptures from clay dug up from a creek near his home. However, it wasn’t until he took his first Latin class with A&S alumnus Sherwin Little that the Indian Hill native learned to love Roman and Greek art. 

Tom Tsuchiya
Tom Tsuchiya with his Atlas sculpture

He began exploring the world of sculpting and started an apprenticeship with a few local artists. These apprenticeships, as well as his Latin class, inspired him to study classics in college, and he soon discovered that one of the nation’s leading classics department was right in his own backyard—UC.

“It’s perfect because it’s a small department, and the professors there are amazing,” he said.

When Tsuchiya started his academic career in classics, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life. For him, it wasn’t about just obtaining his degree, it was about learning as much as he could throughout college, and classics provided rich opportunities. 

“The study of Greek and Roman art has definitely helped me consider how scale and the location of a sculpture affects people emotionally,” he said. 

Tsuchiya regularly incorporates classical themes into his artwork, including “Atlas Recycled,” a piece he originally created for the “Eco-Sculpt” cxhibit on Fountain Square in 2010. 

Made out of recycled materials from previous projects, the sculpture depicts the Greek titan holding the earth. Used and donated maps and atlases cover the sculpture, and he put a map of Cincinnati on the chest to represent his heart. Subsequent iterations of “Atlas Recycled” have been exhibited in New York and Washington, D.C. In July he recreated a different version of “Atlas Recycled” during the London International Youth Science Forum.

“Atlas is actually one of my favorite pieces because it doubles as a recycling receptacle — it’s functional,” he said.

He has also designed:
Cincinnati Reds’ player sculptures at Great American Ball Park
Beginning this year, the plaques for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York
Solid Rock Church’s Jesus sculpture “Lux Mundi” on I-75 
Biola University's “The Spirit of Christ,” a sculpted fish that holds canned foods for the homeless
Xavier University’s Musketeer on the campus in Evanston
The Bearcat on Short Vine

He was delighted to sculpt his alma mater’s mascot. “UC has been so good to me, so I think it’s good to give back,” he said.

Tsuchiya attributes his success to the support of his parents and his degree at UC, where he became adept at critical thinking and honed his presentation skills.

“I think having the Classics background set me apart from everyone else,” he said. "My statues come to life, I try to make my statues look like they’re living and breathing.”

His Bearcat sculpture, for example, was created to be interactive, from its kid-friendly size to a partnership with DAAP students who will create seasonal outfits for it.