John Aakesson, an adjunct professor in the Liberal Arts Division, offered his unique talent and skill of antique restoration to revitalize a historic 300-pound NOVA wooden seal at the Annandale Campus.
As a master wood carver, Aakesson said he received an inquiry through his division to restore the wooden seal that had been visibly worn out for quite some time. Originally the NOVA seal was located in the former campus bookstore. Within only six weeks, the 1992 general studies NOVA graduate recreated a timeless masterpiece that is now displayed in the Brault Building.
“The seal was extremely heavy,” Aakesson said. “The easiest way for me to work on it was to set it up on saw horses in the old bookstore. The seal stood upright, which required me to work from the floor or stand on a table. I researched photos of the images that were broken off. After carving and replacing the missing or broken pieces, various parts of the seal needed to be gilded and several scratches and dings needed to be touched up.”
Since 2004, Aakesson has been teaching sculpture, design and drawing classes at NOVA’s Annandale Campus; however, his passion for sculpture and wood carving began in 1974 while living in Southeast Asia for four years. It was not until he returned to the United States in 1978 that he became further involved with restoration after working alongside Washington, D.C., native and antique restorer L.C. Reynolds. Aakesson said he attributes his interest to pursue a career in design after he learned various artistic techniques from Reynolds.
In addition to restoring the NOVA seal, Aakesson has also contributed metal sculptures to the College, which are featured around the Annandale Campus. Each of the three designs has its own distinctive theme – “Music” located in front of the Richard J. Ernst Community Cultural Center (CE), “Four Women Dancing,” near the McDiarmid building (CM) and one that he is currently restoring, “See Change.”
“I am always interested in helping out the College and giving back to an institution that helped me,” Aakesson said. “Restoring the seal was fun to do and I was extremely honored that I was asked to do it.”
Aakesson holds a M.A. in industrial design from Central Saint Martins, London; a B.A. in sculpture and a B.A. in crafts from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.