Curtis Ingvoldstad spent a lot of time telling himself he couldn’t make a living with art. But this May he will take the lessons he’s learned from doing just that to New Century Academy.

He told a junior high art teacher, and later a college professor, that he had no future in an art career, despite acknowledging his creative talent. He made it through his sophomore year pursuing a degree in engineering, then switched to architecture.

“I had a high aptitude for creative endeavors, I’m always creating something,” Ingvoldstad said. “Eventually it became clear to me the universe was pointing me in this direction.”

What direction was that? After picking up a degree in studio art from the University of Minnesota, he focused on subtractive sculpture. Or, in other words, removing material such as wood or stone to create a finished work of art.

Ingvoldstad, 47, uses a chainsaw.

“I really love the immediacy of it,” the White Bear Lake native said. “Chainsaws are so decisively quick.”

The style appealed to him after three years with carving tools because it allowed him to finish projects quickly, and therefore learn quickly from more examples. He’s been at it since he was 26 (since he was 29 with the chainsaw) but when he teaches at New Century Academy from May 29 through May 31, the students will dial it down a notch.

“I’ll demonstrate my art to give people the idea,” Ingvoldstad said. “We are going to be carving these sculptable foam blocks. They are real easy, you can use clay tools on them. You can paint them when they’re done.”

The great part of sculpting, Ingvoldstad said, is you have to approach a project with the right technique, or it starts to crumble.

“So it gives you the skills, the spacial awareness, the understanding of three dimensions,” he said.

Ingvoldstad’s visit is being provided by a Southwest Minnesota Arts Council Arts in Schools grant award to New Century Academy of $4,000. His class will culminate in an arts festival on June 2 at the school, which will be open to the public. It will highlight nontraditional art and will feature Ingvoldstad as well as other area artists and musicians.

“This project is both for the students at NCA and the community of Hutchinson,” said Jason Becker, director at New Century Academy. “We are attempting to organize a community event in which local artists will have the opportunity to present their skills and products on our campus. We are hoping to provide this event on June 2 at New Century Academy.”

According to Becker, specifically with this grant, the goal is to expose students to a new form of art.

“We will be inviting the artist to our E-term in May,” he said. “At the end of the artist’s presentation we will have a Spartan statue sculpture that will be displayed in the main foyer of our school.”


Though he spent years denying a career making art, Ingvoldstad eventually landed on the key to success when he dared himself to give it a shot.

“A lot of art is personal, not appealing to everyone. How do you become successful as an artist? You appeal to a mass market,” he said. “Why are certain bands popular?”

Chainsaw carvings, Ingvoldstad said, are popular.

“People love it. Even if you think it’s ugly, someone will like it,” he said.

The largest project he has taken on is a giant polar bear roughly 28 feet tall. The space from the nose to the back of the head is 3 feet long. Now it’s on display in White Bear Lake.

“It was a big old tree, an elm tree,” Ingvoldstad said.

Other projects have included a personalized totem commissioned by the founder of a company, as a memento when he retired. Ingvoldstad also created the Skol Chant Drum, and a giant tree for an Ordway children’s festival.

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