the live oaks near the small Texas Hill Country community of Boerne
stands a converted cattle barn, the studio of Jerry McKenna. Born in
Connellsville, PA, McKenna has lived in Texas for over forty years.
He is proud of his Pennsylvania roots but says, "I have traveled the
world over and I have yet to find a more perfect place to work. It
offers beauty, peace, and sunshine for most of the year." He has
the distinction of holding both U.S. and Irish citizenship and he
spends part of each year in Ireland.
A former Air
Force officer and decorated Vietnam veteran, his early recognition
came from his bronze portraits of famous Air Force leaders such as
Generals Billy Mitchell, Ira C. Eaker, and Jimmy Doolittle.
His work can be found in museums, parks, churches, public buildings,
universities, halls of fame, and private collections around the
world. In 1987, McKenna was chosen to create the Processional
Cross for the mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II in San
Over the years
he has received many awards, such as the University of Notre Dame's 1962 Emil Jacques Medal of Fine Arts and the 2001 Rev.
Anthony J. Lauck Award.
One of his most recent honors
was being named the 2003 Sports Sculptor of the Year by the
All-American Football Foundation in recognition of his seventeen
portrait busts in the Pro Hall of Fame, his sculpture of Knute
Rockne at the College Football Hall of Fame, sculptures of Charles A. Comiskey at U. S. Cellular Field in Chicago,
Frank Leahy and Moose Krause at Notre Dame Stadium,
Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch for the University of
Wisconsin, and many others. In 2001, Mr. McKenna was awarded an Honorary ND Monogram by the Notre Dame National Monogram
Club.In September 2014, the NCAA listed two of his works as the Best Sculptures in College Football: the Ara Parseghian came in at No. 5 and The Four Horsemen was No. 1.
began his formal study of art at the age of fourteen at the Gertrude
Herbert School of Art in Augusta, Georgia. Later, he continued his
studies at the American Academy of Art in Chicago and at the San
Antonio Art Institute. He received Bachelor of Fine Arts degree
from the University of Notre Dame, where he studied under Robert
Leader and Dr. Stanley Sasha Sessler, and was influenced by the
sculptor-in-residence, Ivan Mestrovic. He also received a Master of
Arts from Webster University in 1981.
In addition to
sculpture, McKennas other interests include reading, genealogy,
Irish history, Notre Dame football, photography, spirited
conversation·and an occasional fine cigar. He is an Artist-Fellow
of the American Society of Aviation Artists and a Member of the
Coppini Academy of Fine Arts. Married to Gail Thomas McKenna, an
author and lecturer, he has five grown children (Colleen, Michael,
Patrick, Sean, and Daniel), and eight grandchildren.