Looks like women are finally getting honored for their monumental achievements in both American and New York City history thanks to two initiatives pushing for more female representation in the city’s statues. The Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund and She Built NYC are setting precedents for bringing permanent public works depicting women to the streets in monument form. Last month, The Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund announced the winning design for an upcoming statue of the famed female suffragettes by sculptor Meredith Bergmann, whose piece will be erected in the park on August 26, 2020, just in time for the centennial anniversary of the establishment of women’s right to vote. Gothamist reported that the statue will showcase the figures cast in bronze and writing out arguments for women's rights on an elongated scroll. The pair is well-known for penning the lady’s liberation paper, The Revolution, which ran in print from 1868 to 1872. According to Gothamist, the organization said in a press release that they’re proud “to have broken the bronze ceiling to finally start the creation of the first statue of REAL women in Central Park’s 164-year history.” A monument for the women's suffrage movement has been in planning for several years. A request for proposals went out last November, to which 90 sculptors submitted designs. As Bergman's chosen design awaits approval by the New York Public Design Commission, a model of the statue is on view at the New York Historical Society through August 26. Another program helping to elevate women’s historical contributions to New York is She Built NYC, a new advisory panel put together by the De Blasio administration that’s dedicated to preserving and highlighting female figures in New York from 20 years ago or more. Through the City's Percent for Art program, She Built NYC will select nominated figures for public works projects to go up over the next four years. This fall, the panel will vote on the first submitted nominations, which were collected during an open call this summer. The Department of Cultural Affairs has already committed up to $10 million for these new public monuments. The chosen subject and site of the first project will be announced in January. “There are big gaps in our City’s public art, with few statues of women, trans, and gender nonconforming people,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray in a press release. “The message that lack of representation sends is that these people have no value and did not make contributions to our city. This first step we are taking will help us more accurately show the diversity in the people who helped make New York City so great.” The upcoming Elizabeth C. Stanton and Susan B. Anthony statue will mark the sixth statue in all of New York depicting a female historical figure. The others depict Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Harriet Tubman. It will also be the first statue in Central Park’s 840 acres to honor real women. The other 23 statues are of men while the only two female statues are fictional characters Juliet and Alice in Wonderland.
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This month, a 120-foot-tall statue of former Communist Party leader Mao Zedong in the village of Zhushigang, Henan province, was completed. The steel-and-concrete statue sat, somewhat incongruously, in the middle of a field. Days later, the statue was torn down. What happened? https://twitter.com/ChinaGravy/status/686651446918561796 Local officials claim that the statue was not approved. The statue was commissioned by local business leaders and villagers, at a total estimated cost of three million yuan ($460,000). Mao ruled China from 1945–1976, and remains a divisive figure. Photos circulating on social media in China show the statue being dismantled. Some commentators found the statue's location offensive, as Henan was the epicenter of the Great Famine that began in the late 1950s and by some estimates claimed 36 million lives. Today, the province is one of the poorest in China, and some questioned if the money spent on the statue could have been spent on poverty alleviation or education. https://twitter.com/KSLcom/status/686594932065185793 For those who would like to view an ostentatious homage to the former leader, there are many more larger-than-life statues of Mao throughout China. In Chengdu's Tianfu Square, visitors can stare at a 98.4-foot-tall statue of Mao that was erected in 1967 on the site of an ancient palace. In Changsha, there is a 105-foot-tall Mount Rushmore-esque bust of young Mao on a cliff overlooking the Orange River. Erected in 2007, the statue depicts Mao circa 1925. Alternatively, there's an opportunity to try out new techniques that allow a statue to materialize in an ephemeral form. In 2015, a Chinese inventor duo debuted hologram projections that replicated the Bamiyan Buddha statue destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. https://twitter.com/alibomaye/status/607259092265148416
3D projection technology fleetingly brings back the Bamiyan Buddha that was destroyed by the Taliban
The hollow in the sandstone cliffs of Bamiyan, central Afghanistan, still harks back to the looming Bamiyan Buddha statues that once emerged from the cliff-face, before they were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. A Chinese couple has created 3D projection technology to holographically recreate the destroyed statues which, standing at 180 feet and 120 feet respectively, lorded over the Bamiyan valley for 1500 years. https://twitter.com/alibomaye/status/607259092265148416/photo/1 Representing the classic style of Gandhara art, the monuments withstood the armies of Genghis Khan and the introduction of Islam to the region, as well as multiple artillery rounds by the Taliban, which eventually deferred to explosives when their firing failed to make a dent. “These idols have been the gods of infidels,” Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar reportedly declared in marking the statues for destruction. In 2005, Japanese artist Hiro Yamagata proposed a laser show system to recreate the Buddhas, but the project was never implemented. On display for two days in June, the holograms were cast from projectors mounted on scaffolding, the work of a Chinese couple who are traveling the world to film a documentary. Moved by the legacy of the statues and their destruction, they decided to add Bamiyan to their itinerary and provide the projection as a gift from the people of China to the Afghan people.
Beneath this 200 year old monument to George Washington, a time capsule filled with 3D printed scans will send messages to the future
What do you put in a 21st century time capsule inside the cornerstone of a 19th century landmark that’s undergoing restoration? If the landmark is the nation’s first monument to George Washington, you put in a 3D printed likeness of the first president, hot off the 3D printer, of course. That’s the idea behind the four shiny objects that will be sealed within an 1815-era cornerstone and placed below the base of the Washington Monument in Baltimore, Maryland, home of the aforementioned first monument to Washington. The city-owned monument, designed by Robert Mills as a centerpiece for Mount Vernon Place, is undergoing a $5.5 million restoration that’s nearing completion. Planners say this is one of the first instances, to their knowledge, of 3D-printed objects being placed in the cornerstone of a restored monument for future generations to discover—and the objects actually mirror elements of the monument itself. “It’s a twist on history,” said Lance Humphries, an architectural historian who serves as chairman of the monument restoration committee of the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy, a nonprofit group that’s working with the city to restore Baltimore’s Washington Monument and improve the public squares around it. “We like the idea of using this 3D technology as a way of leaving a record for the future… It’s incredible technology.” The restoration work will be complete and the monument will reopen to the public on July 4, 2015, exactly 200 years after the cornerstone was laid to signal the start of construction. It has been closed for repairs since 2010. The four objects, displayed publicly for the first time during a media event Sunday, April 12, include a mini bust of Washington, a mini statue, a mask-like reproduction of the face on Washington’s statue, and a life sized replica of one of his hands, holding a scroll. All four objects were made with 3D scanning and printing technology by Maryland based companies whose principals specialize in the process and wanted to apply it to historic preservation. Noting that time capsules and cornerstones often contain newspapers from the day they were sealed, Humphries said 3D printing is essentially a 21st century way to impart information that was previously conveyed in print form. He said the conservancy’s goal, in placing miniature replicas depicting pieces of the statue inside the cornerstone, was to leave behind information that could tell future preservationists about the statue’s condition after 200 years. “These 3D images will show the future the condition of the statue in 2015,” he explained. “We don’t know when they will be found, but when they are, they will help future generations understand how the statue appeared during the monument’s bicentennial year.” Unlike Robert Mills’ Washington Monument in the nation’s Capitol, which is a marble clad obelisk, Baltimore’s 178-foot-tall monument is a classical Doric column atop a stone base, with a larger-than-life statue of Washington at the top. The standing figure, by Italian sculptor Enrico Causici, depicts Washington resigning his commission as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in 1783. For years, visitors could climb to the top of the Baltimore monument and enjoy unobstructed views in all directions. But the monument was closed to the public after Humphries, from an outdoor café a block away, noticed imperfections in the stonework near the top of the monument and reported what he saw to city officials. That triggered a chain of events that led to the current repair effort. During the restoration, workers discovered the 1815 cornerstone, with contents from that year, and a second time capsule from 1915. The 1915 time capsule has not been opened but will be soon. The 1815 cornerstone was opened in February. Its contents included newspapers from 1815, glass jars, coins, and a likeness of Washington. As part of activities leading up to the 200th anniversary of the cornerstone laying in July, conservancy members wanted to re-bury the 1815 cornerstone, again with objects that might send a message to future generations. Museum conservators recommended that they not re-bury the fragile artifacts from 1815, to ensure their preservation. That’s when Humphries came up with the idea of turning the 1815 cornerstone into a time capsule containing miniature versions of parts of the Washington statue, made with 3D printing technology. Humphries said he thought it would make sense to include another likeness of Washington, since the cornerstone originally had one, and he thought it would be reflective of the changing times to have the 2015 likeness made with 3D printing. In the early 1800s, he said, “printing was about reading. Now it’s about making something in three dimensions, which is a big change over 200 years.” Humphries said he doesn’t know if any other time capsules or cornerstones have been sealed containing 3D-printed objects, but he isn’t aware of any and hopes this is one of the first cases. He said he thought it would be a good way to give people in the future an idea of the technology available to Americans in 2015. “I’m sure in 3015, they are going to say, ‘That was a really primitive thing they used,’ but that is what we use today. “ While scaffolding was still up around the monument, Washington’s statue was documented with 3D scanning technology by Direct Dimensions of Owings Mills, Maryland. A digital scan was taken to create a record of the statue’s condition in 2015. The same scan was used to print the miniature 3D images of the statue that are going in the cornerstone. The four objects were printed in nylon by NextLine Manufacturing of Gaithersburg, Maryland. Then, to ensure that they would last, the 3D models were electroplated for durability, first in copper and then in nickel, by a Halethorpe company called RePliForm. Although the coatings give the objects a metallic appearance, the figures are relatively light, as if they were made with plastic. Michael Raphael, the founder and chief executive officer of Direct Dimensions, said Baltimore’s collection of objects may be the first of its kind, “a set of miniature replicas of an historical monument enshrined back into the cornerstone for future generations to see.” Raphael said 3D scanning can be a valuable tool in preserving statues and other works of art that are kept outdoors. “We strongly believe that cultural artifacts, especially those exposed to the elements... are among the most important treasures requiring 3-D digital documentation,” he said. “Three dimensional scanning provides a fast, accurate means for permanent documentation and future restoration of cultural artifacts under constant risk of destruction by weather, pollution, or other disasters.” One of the four objects, the hand, is hollow in the middle and will contain a handwritten letter, like a message in a bottle. The letter, written in English, will describe the restoration project and the statue’s condition at the 200-year mark. Whoever finds the four objects, Humphries said, will be able to compare the condition of the statue in 2015 and the condition whenever they next open the cornerstone, showing how much the statue has eroded or otherwise changed over time. In that sense, he said, the 3D images will provide useful information to conservationists of the future. This week, the 1815 cornerstone is scheduled to be placed back in its original underground position with the new objects inside, so work can continue on the restoration. Humphries said the cornerstone might be reopened in 100 years or 1,000 years. “It’s just when the next guy finds it and wants to dig it up again. It was a lot of work.” Humphries added that conservators advised his group not to include newspapers this time because most newspapers printed today are “so acidic” that they might damage other objects stored with them. The monument will reopen during a daylong “Monumental Bicentennial Celebration” that will include a Naturalization Ceremony, a formal ribbon cutting, and a “family friendly” fair. Admission is free. As exhibited Sunday, the mini-statue of Washington is reminiscent of similarly sized replicas of the Statue of Liberty that are sold to tourists in New York City. Conservancy representatives say their organization may eventually fabricate and sell copies of the cornerstone objects as souvenirs, to raise funds for additional phases of restoration work around Mount Vernon Place.
In life, by all accounts, William Penn, founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, was a good man. In death, however, this portly, English-born idealist has turned nasty—if the good sports fans of Philadelphia are to be believed. But Norman Foster has a plan to appease the spirits. The trouble all started when a Bronze statue of Penn was placed atop the tower of Philadelphia’s Second Empire–style city hall, which, upon its completion in 1901, was the tallest structure in town. It maintained that status, and Penn his supremacy, until the erection of One Liberty Place in 1987, which stood some 400 feet taller. As soon as Penn’s perch was eclipsed, Philadelphia was plunged into a 25-year drought during which none of the city’s professional sports franchises won a championship. Many began to speculate that the founding father had cursed his progeny. To appease the peeved spirit, upon the completion of the even taller, Robert A.M. Stern–designed Comcast Center in 2007, a miniature statue of the great man was placed atop the building’s highest beam. A year later, the Phillies won the World Series. Now, to keep old Penn happy, the statue will be moved to the top of an even taller tower designed by Foster + Partners, which is currently under construction.
In one of the more off-beat installations to come from New York's Public Art Fund, Tatzu Nishi’s Discovering Columbus will feature the statue of Christopher Columbus—of Columbus Circle fame—as the center piece to a pedestrian living room environment. Scaffolding is already rising around the statue's pedestal and will eventually culminate in the platform holding a cozy lounge that will open to the public on September 20.
Earlier this year, over 2,700 people ponied up cash through the online crowd-funding platform Kickstarter to erect a statue of the 1980s icon RoboCop in Detroit, Michigan. Plenty has been said—both good and bad—about this quest to "uphold the awesome," whether the statue will be a good or bad thing for the city struggling to regain a solid footing. Curbed Detroit recently checked in with Brandon Walley of Detroit Needs RoboCop and learned the statue could be ready to install as early as the summer of 2012. While a site for the statue must still be secured, organizers are currently awaiting the original RoboCop model to be shipped from Hollywood before the statue can be dipped in bronze. Considering that the 1987 American sci-fi action film was literally set in a near-future (you could say present-day) Detroit, and given the themes of resurrection, memories, and conflicted policies with logical fallacies, the statue likely holds more than just a nugget of nostalgia to the supporters.