top of page

About the Artist

     Following a 1-credit experiential learning course at Muskegon Community College, titled "The Art of the Civil War," in which students were taken on a extended weekend-long bus trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; twenty-year-old Ari Norris wrote a life-changing letter to nationally recognized sculptor Gary Casteel.


     Being the last living artist to produce a monument on the expansive Gettysburg National Military Park, Casteel served as one of the course's several in-person "experiences." The group of students joined Gary for an on-site presentation at his sculpture of General James Longstreet, followed by a studio visit to view works in progress. 


     In the weeks following the meeting, Norris began drafting a request to Gary - to become the seventy-year-old artist's first-ever apprentice. Upon receiving Norris' letter, the pair had a life-changing phone call.

     Norris would go on to join Casteel in Pennsylvania for two subsequent summer-sessions, by the end of which saw the groundwork being laid for Norris' first bronze commission, the Doris Rucks Memorial Sculpture at Muskegon Community College.


      Norris has recently completed Band Together, his largest commission to date, on October 20th, 2023. Representing Muskegon Heights High School's tradition of exuberantly high-stepping Marching Band Drum Majors, this double life-size sculpture is a prominent feature of Rowan Park and the surrounding community. 




Band Together - Marching Band Drum Major, at Rowan Park. Muskegon Heights, MI


Paul Anderson & Lennis Moore Memorial Busts, Midwest Old Settlers & Threshers Association. Mt. Pleasant, IA



Denny Craycraft Memorial Sculpture, Vietnam Era U.S. Soldier, and K-9 War Dog, at Denny Craycraft Veterans Freedom Park. Belding, MI 


Clarence Zylman, Muskegon's Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy Memorial Sculpture, at LST 393 Veterans Museum. Muskegon, MI

Doris Rucks Memorial Sculpture, at Muskegon Community College. Muskegon, MI

R. David Zerhusen Bas-Relief, Catholic Order of Foresters National Headquarters. Naperville, IL


Second summer-long apprenticeship with sculptor Gary Casteel. Gettysburg, PA


First summer-long apprenticeship with sculptor Gary Casteel. Gettysburg, PA



Morse, Cory. MLive. "Band Together," Sculpture Dedicated in Muskegon Heights." Web. Oct 21, 2023.

Wong, Derek. 96 Muskegon. "Band Together - Drum Major Sculpture Unveiled in Muskegon Heights."

    Web. Oct 21, 2023.

    *Video Documentation


13 On Your Side Staff. WZZM. "Officials Unveil Statue Honoring First Black Drum Major at Muskegon Heights High 

    School. Web. Oct 20, 2023. 

    *Video Documentation


Belt, Nate. WZZM. "Statue to Feature Uniform of the First Black Drum Major at Muskegon Heights High School."

     Web. Nov. 30, 2022.

Jaworowski, Matt. Wood TV. "New Sculpture to Highlight Muskegon Heights' Marching Band Tradition." Web. 

     Nov 28, 2022. 


Jewell-Hammie, Skyla. MLive. "New Public Art Installation to Honor Muskegon Heights Marching Band's Legacy." Web. Nov 29, 2022. 

O'Riley, Andy. Muskegon Channel. Rowan Park Public Art - A High Step in the Right Direction - Band Together. Web. Dec 19, 2022. 


Roberts, Andy. White Lake Beacon. "New "Band Together" statue planned in Muskegon Heights." Web. Nov 18, 2022. 





Martin, Michael. Fox17. “Belding Veterans Park Unveils Several New Statues, Including of Founder.”

    Web. September 7, 2020.


Sasiela, Evan. Ionia Sentinel-Standard. "Denny Craycraft Veterans Freedom Park in Belding Adds New

     Monuments." Web. September 11, 2020.



Center, Patrick. WGVU Public Media. "Muskegon's Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy Forever Celebrated with Statue."                                         Grand Valley State University. Web. Nov. 12, 2018. 

      *Radio Interview


Koryzno, Peter. Muskegon Community College. “Dr. Rucks Sculpture Created by MCC Alumnus Ari Norris.” Web. September 27, 2018.​


McQuire, Justine. MLive. “Muskegon’s Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy Honored with Statue.”

      Web. November 11, 2018.

      *Video Documentation


McQuire, Justine. MLive. "Muskegon Community College Honors Late Human Rights Champion." Web. September 27, 2018


O'Riley, Andy. Muskegon Channel. “Boogie Woogie Bugler Memorial Statue Unveiling.”

      Web. Nov. 10, 2018


O'Riley, Andy. Muskegon Channel. "Local Sculptor Ari Norris to Present the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy November 10th at the          

       LST 393." Web. Sept. 28, 2018. 

       *Video Interview





Koryzno, Peter. “MCC Alumnus to Create Life-Size Sculpture of Famed Muskegon Musician.”

       Reflections Magazine. Pub. Summer Issue, 2017.

bottom of page