With fall right around the corner, “Small Talk” by Dan Hill elicits a nostalgic fondness for connecting with family and friends. The sculpture showcases two young farm boys casually engaging in small talk. Whether they’re brothers, extended family, or friends, it is easy to imagine the boys scheming up some big adventure following the completion of chores or perhaps discussing the cute new girl at school. Regardless of topic, the details captured allow for one to emotionally connect with the art.
Hill is well known for his ability to capture both likeness and emotion in his life-sized sculptures. “Small Talk” demonstrates his skill causing the viewer to want to listen in on or even join the imaginary conversation.
Hill’s talent emerged accidentally in 1974. A work-related foot injury demanded that Hill take it easy while recuperating. One day, while lounging around watching television, he picked up some Play-Doh his children had left out. Using a toothpick, he toyed around with it. By the end of the movie, Hill had sculpted a small bust, capturing a remarkable likeness of actor Lee Marvin.
Realizing a talent, Hill was able to continue with two sculpture commissions and a first place ribbon in the professional sculpture division at the Utah State Fair. Raising a family and running a business kept Hill from pursuing sculpting fully. However, he did discover a hidden talent for painting landscapes using acrylics and oils.
Following his retirement from his landscaping business and at the urging of his son, Hill’s sculpture career began. In 1997, Hill sculpted his first life-sized piece depicting a child. He has since gone on to create an impressive portfolio of approximately 100 sculptures.