Willard Boepple For Older Children

A black and white graphic of Willard Boepple's "Eleanor at 7:15"

Eleanor at 7:15


Willard Boepple

American, born 1945

Subject: Dynamic movement

Activity: Movement in sculpture

Materials: Paper, pencil, tin foil, scissors

Vocabulary: Arc, Cor-ten steel, dynamic, malleable, plane


Willard Boepple’s sculpture is made of many sheets of hard and heavy steel. Steel is a material that is stiff and rough, and it is usually used to build big things like airplanes. Instead, the artist used this material to create something small for us to see.

Sculptors liked working with steel because it posed a physical challenge: it would take great strength to take a sheet of industrially made metal, cut it, weld it, bend it, and construct it. It would also require knowledge about welding and having other industrial tools. Boepple specifically uses Cor-ten steel, a strong yet malleable material that can be cut, bent, and formed to create things with an extraordinary amount of energy and movement. This sculpture looks lively and active, like it may have just stopped moving, and could get up again at any moment.

This sculpture reminds us of movement because the artist used many different metal shapes to create a variety of lines. Notice how your eye likes to follow these different lines. There are straight pieces that are vertical, horizontal, and diagonal, and arcs of metal connect them. The artist's use of many different kinds of lines is exciting and interesting for us to consider.


Picking a few lines or pieces of metal you see, how are the lines moving? Do you think they look like a certain action or emotion?

How many are straight and how many are curved?

Do you see something in this sculpture?

This sculpture is called Eleanor at 7:15. Judging by the sculpture, what do you imagine Eleanor might be like?

  • Starting with pencil and paper, draw a variety of lines based on words of your choice that look like they could be moving. Can you make lines that look like they move quickly? Slowly? Do you think of certain feelings when you see the different lines?
  • With a partner, try guess descriptions for the lines you are drawing.
  • Using tin foil, you can now translate your lines into sculpture. Cut out shapes from tin foil using scissors. These shapes will be the planes used to create your sculpture. Try to keep the tin foil as unwrinkled as you can.
  • You can cut small slits in sides of your tinfoil shapes to stack foils on top of each other. No glue will be necessary to assemble your planes.

This is one of Boepple’s earlier artworks, when steel was his main material. In the 1990s Boepple shifted to work mostly with wood.

Look again

Look at the sculpture from all angles. Walk around it, look from eye level, and from different heights and angles. Do you notice things you can only see from a certain view? How does the artist use negative space?


Arc ‒ A segment of a circle.
Cor-ten steel ‒ A high strength group of steel alloys which were developed to eliminate the need for painting. It forms a stable, rust-like appearance after several years' exposure to weather.
Dynamic ‒ Characterized by action or motion, the opposite of static.
Malleable ‒ Able to be hammered or pressed permanently out of shape without breaking or cracking.
Negative Space ‒ The empty space around and between an artwork.
Plane ‒ Any distinct flat surface within a painting or sculpture that exists in space.