Local sculptor and art teacher chosen to sculpt goddess

Of the 12 gods the ancient Romans worshipped, the Goddess Ceres ruled over the seasons. As the goddess of the harvest, Ceres was the patron of farmers and the protector of those who worked the earth. 

Far from her homeland, the mythical goddess will have a new likeness of her in Florida, sculpted by the talented hands of one of Shelley’s very own, Daniel Borup.

Daniel grew up in Meridian Idaho as the youngest child of a particularly artistic family. 

“All of my siblings did art. That was kind of my family’s thing,” Daniel said. “I can’t ever remember a time not wanting to do art.”

Daniel has spent his life learning and expanding on his artistic abilities. But when he began trying to turn his art into a career, he ran into a problem. He had too much variety in his portfolio.

“I was trying to get my work into this gallery, and I showed this gallery owner my portfolio,” Daniel said.

The gallery owner told him that he was really good, but he was a “salad.”

Scale model of Ceres sculpture | Courtesy Image

“I was like, ‘what do you mean?’ and she says, ‘you’re kind of all over the place. You’ve got this, and this, and this. I look at your portfolio and I don’t know what you do,'” Daniel said.

His portfolio was full of a variety of art forms, from painting to pottery to sculpture. Daniel realized that if he was going to make it in the art world, he needed to choose an area to specialize in.

“At first I thought it was going to be pottery,” Daniel explained.

It wasn’t long before he became bored with making sets of bowls and cookie jars. At the same time, he became more and more excited about the ideas he was having for different sculptures. So he decided to make sculpture his primary area of focus.

“I still love pottery. I still love painting. I love to do all of that; I just had to make a decision of what I was going to focus on and get really good at,” Daniel said.

Since making that decision, Daniel has been commissioned throughout Idaho and other states to create sculptures. He received his first large public art commission in 2016.

Daniel now has two commissioned sculptures in Meridian, one in St. Anthony and another in Ashton. He did a large relief sculpture in Ogden, Utah. In Cedar Park, Texas, Daniel did sculptures of a firefighter and a police officer.

Those commissions only account for a fraction of the hundreds of commissions he’s applied for. 

“Starting out, it’s a tough field because I’m up against people who have been doing this for years and years and years,” Daniel said. 

He said that dealing with rejection is one of the most difficult struggles he’s had to deal with in his sculpting career.

“It’s something I’ve had to learn to overcome,” Daniel said.

He said that artists and others in creative fields have to learn to realize that rejection is just part of the job. Though, he admitted that’s not an easy thing to do.

“I kind of now see a rejection as a kind of a badge of honor,” Daniel explained. “When I get a rejection, to me it means, hey, I’m putting myself out there like I should be. I’m doing the work that I should be doing. If I wasn’t doing that work, I wouldn’t be getting rejections.”

Even though rejection is part of the job, continually putting his work out there has lead to more and more commissions.

“Over the years as I continued to apply, I got smaller commissions, then a little bit bigger and a little bit bigger,” Daniel said.

Most recently, Daniel was a finalist for five different sculpture commissions in the same county. He was selected for one out of those five commissions. The one he was selected for was the Ceres sculpture in Hillsborough County, Florida.

“I used to just dream of getting commissions like this one,” Daniel said.

In Daniel’s maquette, the small-scale model of the sculpture, Ceres is harvesting citrus fruit. When the sculpture is finished, it will be life-size and cast in bronze.

It will be a long process between now and when the sculpture is finally installed, but Daniel is looking forward to it and showing his students what he can do.

Daniel Borup sculpts a relief sculpture. | Mike Price, Community Pioneer

The art of teaching art

Daniel grew up in Meridian, but in 2009 he brought his family to Shelley to take over as the Shelley High School art teacher.

“Shelley is a great place. It really is a fantastic town. It’s a great school and I love teaching there,” Daniel said.

People have asked Daniel why he chose to become a teacher instead of being a full-time artist. For Daniel, the decision to become a teacher came around the same time when he still wasn’t sure what kind of art he wanted to focus on, and teaching offered a level of stability for him and his family.

Though having a “salad” portfolio full of different kinds of art may not be a good thing when trying to get commissioned, Daniel said it’s great for being a teacher.

“I think experiencing all the different mediums of art is a good thing, especially when it comes to teaching,” he said. “As I teach in school, I need to be pretty well versed in just about any art I could imagine.”

Daniel helps his student to learn how to work in a variety of different mediums.

“We use different painting mediums and dry mediums like oil pastels and chalky pastels and charcoal and pencil and marker and lots of different stuff. We’re learning how to draw and to use clay,” he explained. 

One of Daniel’s students, Trevor Oubre, was featured in the March 26, issue of the Community Pioneer print edition for his comic strip “Dude, Watch This.”

Another of Daniel’s students, Samuel Bush, was named Grand Champion in the Bingham Arts High School Show on April 5, for his sculpture titled “Billy Joel.” 

Bush’s sculpture, as well as the other submissions from high school-aged students in Bingham County, will be on display at the Candy Jar Art Gallery in Blackfoot until April 30.

“One of the rewarding things about being a teacher is when someone does kind of have that spark and goes, ‘aha! I get this. This is cool,'” Daniel said.

One of Daniel Borup’s lif-size sculptures. | Mike Price, Community Pioneer

Art in our community

Daniel is a board member of the Bingham Arts Council and serves as the ambassador for the Idaho Chapter of the National Sculpture Society.

“I’m in charge of organizing our individual Idaho sculpture events,” Daniel said.

In his capacity as the ambassador for the Idaho Chapter of the National Sculpture Society, Daniel is organizing a sculpture competition to be held at the Museum of Idaho for artists from all over the state to come and compete.

“It will be open to the public. So people can come in and watch the sculpture competition happening. Then there will be a reception at the end,” Daniel said.

The event is slated to happen in August.

Daniel is also working on a solo exhibition of his work for the Museum of Idaho. The exact dates of the exhibition are still being worked out, but he said it should be sometime this summer.

Daniel believes that having art in communities enhances those communities and the lives of the people who live in them.

“Although it can be hard to see the return on investment right off the bat, communities that invest in art tend to be wealthier, more prosperous. It attracts a lot of creativity to the area.

He said he would love to see more art in Shelley. He hopes the city will take the opportunity to utilize his talents someday to create a sculpture for the town.

“I just think that any way that we can include art in our daily lives, it will enrich our lives for the better,” Daniel said.

Daniel Borup | Mike Price, Community Pioneer


Mike Price

Mike Price is an award winning journalist from Shelley. He is now one of the founding members and Editor-in-Chief of the Community Pioneer.

2 thoughts on “Local sculptor and art teacher chosen to sculpt goddess

  • April 19, 2021 at 10:50 am

    Daniel, congrats on the commission. You are doing great work.

    My foundry in Montana is closing and I am curious about what foundry you use.

  • April 20, 2021 at 10:45 am

    Daniel Borip is a great teacher also. I live in Shelley and have always been grateful that this community has had him to engage our youth. He taught my daughter and encouraged her to love art and be proud of every accomplishment she achieved. Best wishes as he goes forward with his sculpting.


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