The surreal though strikingly familiar forms of the late sculptor and longtime Western Kentucky University professor Charles H. Forrester will come to life at the Baker Arboretum’s Downing Museum with the opening of a retrospective exhibition Sept. 14.

Forrester, who is credited with establishing WKU’s sculpture program and for his instrumental role in designing the university’s Fine Arts Center, is known as a master of the visual pun.

Through his work, Forrester could twist everyday objects and human physicality into abstract, often fantastical forms.

One such series, Shoes Fantasies, melds portraiture or architecture with the sensuality of a stiletto or the sturdiness of a work boot.

“Having a conversation with my father, it was a mind-opening experience,” Winifred Forrester, the sculptor’s daughter, said in a news release promoting the exhibition. “He viewed the world differently. You’d just be driving down the road looking out the window, and he looked out the window and he saw something different. Everything he did was looking for ideas about sculpture .... everything he did, and everywhere he looked, he was looking for ideas about sculpture and art. He lived, breathed and thought about making artwork, all the time.”

The exhibition will be the first opportunity for the public to view a large-scale exhibition of Charles Forrester’s work since his death in 2010. It’s open to the public through Nov. 13 at the museum at 4801 Morgantown Road, according to a WKU news release.

Along with the exhibition, WKU will celebrate his work with a screening of the award-winning documentary about his life titled “A Line Unbroken: The Charles Forrester Story.”

The screening will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Capitol Arts Center in downtown Bowling Green.

The event will also feature a discussion with Winifred Forrester, his former student and the sculptor Russ Faxon and WKU art historian Guy Jordan, who contributed to the documentary and to a book published last year – “A Mind in Motion: The Art of Charles H. Forrester,” by Winifred Forrester.

“Charles Forrester was without a doubt, a fox – clever, creative, curious and constantly crafting analogies between things, a master of the visual pun,” Jordan said in a news release announcing the exhibition.

Charles Forrester grew up in New York City and received his Master of Fine Arts at the University of Oregon in 1960, according to the release. As a professor, he spent 30 years at the University of Salford in England and WKU.

During the last dozen years of his life, he maintained a studio in East Nashville.

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– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @NewsByAaron or visit

Education reporter. Covers education and related issues, focusing primarily on the Bowling Green and Warren County public school districts and Western Kentucky University.

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