HAMMOND — Zach Slough is finally making a name for himself as “working” artist.
The senior at student at Southeastern Louisiana University has sculpted a plaque of Oneal Moore, Washington Parish’s first black sheriff’s deputy, who was gunned down in 1965, presumably by members of the Klu Klux Klan, SLU officials said.
The parish will display the plaque as a memorial to the slain officer.
The plaque, which Slough creates on his own when he wasn’t either at school or working fulltime in welding and fabrication at Ferrera Fire Apparatus in Holden, is something he is proud of, he said.
“It shows you can work on a deadline,” he said.
Slough said his real passion is creating metal art.
Just recently, his sculpture “Take Flight” was on display in the university’s Contemporary Art Gallery in East Stadium. Constructed of aluminum and sycamore, the sculpture was part of the Visual Arts Juried Student Exhibition.
Slough said he learned how to design metal art while working at Ferrera but his SLU education has helped him improve his skills in other media.
“His work is excellent,” said art professor Jeffrey Mickey, who first approached Slough about creating the plaque.
“He has a very good work ethic.” Mickey said. “He has a desire to learn more and is an exceptional student.”
Mickey said he asked Slough to create the plaque after Deputy Chief Oleander Smith asked him to recommend someone for the project.
Estimates from several competing companies were not cost effective, and the town wanted the memorial created at a reasonable cost, Slough said.
Slough said he could complete the job for about $4,500, one fourth of the price other companies quoted, he said.
Slough began sketching Moore’s face over and over from only two photos and some “guess work,” he said.
“I drew out what I could see on a piece of paper,” Slough said. “I did a lot of drawings so that my brain could get used to looking at his face.”
As an artist who has drawn portraits before, Slough knows that the brain naturally “wants” to create characteristics similar to that of the artist drawing the picture, since he or she sees his or her face regularly.
After creating the sketch, Slough said he had to recreate his drawing of Moore’s face on plaster before it could be cast in bronze and bolted onto the plaque, which he also created. The facial portion was created very differently from the lettering porton during a multiple-step process, which has given the senior artist experience in different forms of casting, he said.
Slough said he believes the experience will be invaluable. In addition to gaining the added experience of designing and creating a plaque, Slough said the job “looks good on a resume.”
A native of Indiana, Slough came to Louisiana more than five years ago with a friend who was attending LSU. He settled in Watson, which he said is reminicent of his hometown in Indiana.
After he graduates, Slough said he will move to a new state, probably Colorado, where he will pursue a masters degree in art.
“I like what I do because I like working with my hands,” Slough said.
“Zach has the desire to succeed and become a working artist and make money,” Mickey said.
The plaque is slated for completion on May 15, and will then be displayed at the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office, Slough said.