MSU to unveil a new beaver sculpture

Minot State University will unveil a new rebar sculpture depicting its mascot, the beaver, outside the MSU Dome during a dedication ceremony Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Belcourt artist Bennett Brien, who also created the Fighting Sioux logo for the University of North Dakota, created the sculpture.

Brien said the sculpture depicts a beaver in a stream, holding a stick. The sculpture’s curving lines help make the scene look like it’s in motion.

Brien said the stick could symbolize more than a busy beaver hard at work; it could also represent students who are working hard toward their goal of graduation or other people who are striving to achieve honor or achievement.

“I guess it could apply to anyone’s life,” said Brien.

To create the beaver, Brien looked at photos of real beavers and also measured a stuffed beaver at the Turtle Mountain Heritage Center in Belcourt. Then he doubled its size when he was sculpting the beaver statue. He created drawings to show how the finished sculpture might look, but said that the finished art work never looks exactly like a two-dimensional drawing. He made adjustments while he was working on the sculpture.

“You don’t know beavers until you have to sculpt one,” he said.

Brien holds his bachelor’s and master’s degrees through the University of North Dakota and is a part-time art instructor at Turtle Mountain Community College in Belcourt as well as an accomplished artist and sculptor.

Sculptures by Brien are located throughout the state, including on the State Capitol grounds in Bismarck, in Grand Forks, Belcourt and along the Scenic Byway in the Turtle Mountains. He also created a bronze and iron cast of the late Pope John Paul II for his church, St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Belcourt..

Brien comes from an artistic family. Several of his siblings are also interested in art. He also has a number of children and grandchildren, some of whom seem interested in art as well.

He now has a home and studio in Belcourt, located near the woods and the lake.

His next project will be a sculpture of a buffalo for the Wahpeton Indian School.

“The cool thing about art is you never know what you’re going to come up with,” said Brien.