Artist Beth Vannatta, alias “Piglet,” is a retired art teacher living on a 48-acre farm in Halstead, Kan. In recent years she became so incensed at the casualties of war that she decided to do something about it. She made a series of antiwar sculptures and took them on the road.
“These sculptures hold great personal meaning for me,” she has written on her Web site. “Not so much like my children, but more as a part of my inner being; perhaps a piece of my soul. As the forms emerged, they seemed to gain a life of their own. I feel deep tenderness, empathy, and love for them. It is my hope they will kindle similar reactions in others.”
To make room for her artistic projects she converted a large chicken house into a studio where she does much of her sculpture.
Vannatta said she created the antiwar sculptures by three different methods: carved stone, forged and brazed copper, and cast bronze.
“Originally, I had decided I could not afford the expense of casting bronze. Surely I could come up with some way to achieve a comparable result. Forged, brazed copper was my solution. It is an intimate process. Cut, beat, bend, braze. Don’t like it? Add more metal. Still don’t like it? Cut it away. Add on -- take away. And, always it is hands on. I can work as steadily and as long as my strength will allow. Sleep, pick it up, and go again. Always, always the work is in my hands.”
She has shown her work in Kansas, Missouri and Colorado, and her work was carried in two Wichita, Kan., galleries.
Vannatta earned a bachelor’s degree in art education from Fort Hays State College in Hays, Kan., and has accumulated some 30 graduate hours, mostly from Wichita State University. She taught at Hutchinson High School in Kansas from 1969 to 1996, and also taught jewelry design part-time at Hutchinson Community College from 1987 to 1999.
She adopted and has raised five children and has “numerous grandchildren.