Joe Meiser, assistant professor of art & art history, has carved giant hominid skulls out of Styrofoam. He's created a six-foot tall steeple using 325 layers of red plastic. And he's crafted a Mobile Transcendence Device out of bones, wood, electronics and earth.

To create these and his many other pieces, the assistant professor of art first builds 3D computer models and then fabricates the intricate, often large, sculptures in the studio. Producing each requires intense and sustained patience, precision and persistence.

Meiser wasn't always so disciplined. "In college, I was a smoker. I wasn't kind to my body," he says.

The unhealthy streak ended after Meiser completed his BFA and moved to Cincinnati, where he began training at a martial arts academy. The studio taught Jeet Kune Do, a martial art developed by Bruce Lee that melds techniques from boxing, fencing and wing chun.

"That experience gave me a lasting appreciation for boxing," says Meiser. "I've been training consistently ever since. Boxing requires attention and a steadiness that helps focus in the other areas of my life."

Meeting up regularly with friends to jump rope, shadowbox, spar and work on techniques using focus mitts, Meiser says his practice improves his ability to offer and receive constructive feedback — skills as essential when facing an opponent in the ring as they are in life in general.

"What's amazing is the camaraderie that grows out of working with other people, whether it's boxing or creating art," he says. He brings that collaborative spirit to the classroom, where he guides students through their own processes of designing and creating sculpture. Says Meiser, "A partner helps you correct bad form and learn to do things better."

Related reading: