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Billingsley crafts bell in Japan

(Oct. 14, 1993)   —   There are still some things made in the U.S. getting top respect in Japan. Just ask East Carolina University’s Carl Billingsley.
An artist, Billingsley produced a sculpture at his home in Greensboro. He entered it in a major art competition in Toyamura, Japan and won much more than praise from a panel of Japanese art judges.
Billingsley’s creation, “Bell of the Earth,” won the Semi Grande Prize at the 1993 Toyamura International Sculpture Biennale. The prize includes an award of two million Yen ($20,000) and an all- expenses-paid trip for two to Japan to attend the sculpture exhibition and to pick up the prize.
The international exhibition begins Oct. 24 and runs through Dec. 23. Billingsley and his wife Catherine will attend the opening ceremonies.
“Having my sculpture selected for this international exhibition is the type of critical recognition which all artists strive for,” said Billingsley.
“The Japanese are very strong supporters of contemporary sculpture and they sponsor the most prestigious and lucrative international sculpture competitions in the world. Receiving this award is an honor and a great encouragement,” he said.
His sculpture is a bronze casting produced from a sand mold. It is bell-shaped with a square bottom and round top. It measures about 8 inches wide and 16 inches tall and weighs 55 pounds.
Billingsley said the sculpture invites viewers to touch the rough texture of the sides and the smooth, polished finish of the top.
Six judges from Japanese museums and universities selected the entries from a field of more than 540 sculptures submitted to the competition from 36 countries. The winner of the three million Yen Grand Prize was from Japan.
Toyamura is a small village of 2,000 residents on the northern island of Hokkaido. The village is located beside Lake Ioya, a scenic attraction and part of a national park. Toyamura sponsors the International Sculpture Biennale every other year. It is considered a major international art event.
A resident of Greensboro, Billingsley joined the faculty of the ECU School of Art last year. Prior to joining ECU, he taught sculpture at UNC-Greensboro for six years and at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, School of Architecture and Urban Planning for 11 years.