Edd Hayes

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Sculptor helps fallen soldiers find “The Way Home”

Those who have driven around The Woodlands have likely seen one of artist Edd Hayes’ 27 bronze deer sculptures or perhaps one of his other memorials throughout the country. But Hayes is hard at work on another monument for The Woodlands that is of particular importance to the sculptor.

“The Way Home” memorializes the sacrifices of the military, featuring the likenesses of two young Woodlands area Army soldiers who lost their lives in 2007 in a 10-foot-by-12-foot sculpture: Cory Kosters, who perished in Iraq, and Zach Endsley, who died in Afghanistan. In the sculpture, Kosters stands atop a hill, pointing to something in the sky while tapping Endsley on the shoulder to show him the way home, the two young men stuck between death and the afterlife, Hayes said. Their footprints are visible along a 10-foot path, where the faint pattern of other soldiers’ footprints will be visible.

“[It’s important] to honor all the young men who have given their all to keep this country free,” Hayes said. “It doesn’t celebrate war, but it dedicates the young men who have given their lives to keeping the peace and protecting the United States of America.”

The monument will showcase the soldiers at life size on a 6-foot monument and will be located on the east side of Town Green Park, he said. The monument will honor all branches of the military by showcasing their emblems while allocating space for plaques for those who would like to honor fallen members of the military.

Scheduled for installation sometime before Memorial Day 2014, “The Way Home” will be Hayes’ second war monument, the first a World War II monument in Gainesville, Texas. He has created more than 60 monuments across the country, from California to Florida and even in other countries since he constructed his first in 1999, the same year he was named an Official Texas State Sculptor by the Texas Legislature.

Hayes, 67, said he was not always interested in art as a career.

“It was something that I could always draw,” he said. “My mother tried to get me to pursue art when I was young, but I was never interested in it. But art kept following me around all my life.”

Hayes said he held a number of other jobs before picking up art as a hobby in his mid-30s, including construction, electrical, plumbing and sales. An interest in painting and two-dimensional artwork later led to an interest in sculpture. The hobby soon became a full-time job as Hayes realized he envisions art in three dimensions better than two.

Although “The Way Home” may be one of his more personal works, Hayes said it is nowhere close to his largest work. His “Wild and Free” piece, located next to the Reliant Astrodome, is a nearly 200-foot-long stone and bronze sculpture featuring six 1 -sized wild mustangs.

Hayes said he enjoys working on large pieces, and he hopes to continue constructing bigger and better monuments.

“My work is everything to me,” Hayes said. “When I started, it was just something I could do to make a little extra money. But I realized that I was supposed to be a sculptor.”

Edd Hayes Studio, www.eddhayes.com, 281-350-2502

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