BiographyRobert Isaiah Russin was born August 26, 1914, in New York City. In 1933 he earned a BA degree from the City College of New York and in 1935 he received an MA from the same institution. He worked for a time as a WPA sculptor and from 1944-1947 he taught at Cooper Union Art School in New York. He then accepted a teaching position at the University of Wyoming (Laramie), where he remained on the art faculty for nearly 40 years and also served as the university’s artist-in-residence for approximately 10 years. In 2000 he was selected by the university as the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Former Faculty Member.
Russin is best known for his public sculptures. He was a prolific producer of work, with over 400 pieces throughout the world. His first major commission came in 1938 for the post office in Evanston, Illinois, but his most famous work may be the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Monument. This colossal bronze head, measuring 12 ½ feet high, was dedicated in 1958 and is situated at the highest point in the Lincoln Highway (Interstate 80) in Wyoming. The University of Wyoming features several works by Russin, including bas-reliefs on a number of buildings and a life-size sculpture of Benjamin Franklin. Other notable pieces in Wyoming include the “Wyoming Crystal” in Cheyenne, and “Prometheus” in the Natrona County Library, Casper. Russin also completed commissions for buildings in Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Texas and the Dominican Republic. In California, he is best known for his “Spirit of Life” fountain sculpture, located in front of the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte. His granite statue, “Chthonodynamis,” can be found at the U.S. Department of Energy’s headquarters in Washington D.C. Russin works are in the collection of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., the Hyde Park Museum in New York, and Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. His works were also collected by Bill Cosby, Carl Reiner and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Russin died December 14, 2007.
The bust of Joseph Langland which Russin created, cast in Italy, was donated to Luther College by Langland in 2003. A second copy resides at the University of Wyoming. The bust was given to Langland by the University of Wyoming about 1957-58. Langland taught at the University of Wyoming from 1948-59 when he joined the faculty at the University of Massachusetts. Langland wrote a poem about the bust entitled “Upon A Clay Head of Self.”
Source of BiographyMantle Fielding’s Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors, & Engravers. 2nd ed. Poughkeepsie, NY: Apollo, 1986;
Who’s Who in American Art. New Providence, NJ: Marquis Who’s Who, 2003-04;