Posts Tagged ‘sculpture’

The statues stand on the shore of the Hudson River, ever-changing, at least for now. They are the effort of one man who has no special goal and who with his silence invites the viewer to read the rocks, as did the author of this guest post who shared these words and images over one hot, tumultuous weekend as the nation’s ears rang with the cries of a child.


Words and Images by Donna Stenwall

He literally balances one rock on top of another. That is it. It is amazing. Kids come by and knock them down and he keeps building. He’s been at it for 2 years. He thinks he will stop in August. The Parks Department said they wouldn’t be able to adopt it and care for it. Who knows what will happen.


In this moment, what do I see? The gentleman in the middle reminds me of the potbellied clown tipsy as he holds on to the lamppost. A paint on velvet picture from my youth.


The proud Victorian woman with her starched bonnet, chest held high, as they made their way from Europe to New York to start a new life.


The Puritan escaping persecution for her beliefs. Is she waiting for another ship to arrive? Gazing towards the world she left behind to start a new life in a new world. Would she even recognize this country she held with such hope and such promise? I do not.

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The American Sphinx is located in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA. Commissioned and designed by Jacob Bigelow, founder of the cemetery, the sphinx was sculpted by Martin Milmore. It is composed of a single block of granite and was completed in July 1872 by Milmore and his brother, Joseph.


It is a rather unique Civil War monument. Inscribed in Latin and English on its sides are the following words:

American Union Preserved

African Slavery Destroyed

By the Uprising of a Great People

By the Blood of Fallen Heroes


In a rather poignant twist, Jacob Bigelow never actually saw the sculpture. By the time it was completed he was blind though as recounted on the Mount Auburn Cemetery website, friends remembered him visiting the statue and “fondly touching the contours of the massive form.” Learn more via the link below.

African American Heritage Trail – The Sphinx

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Worn by weather, and the occasional falling tree branch, the statues in Mount Auburn Cemetery always seem to be changing … a slow change… but change nonetheless.




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Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence is a current exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It is a beautifully curated show featuring glazed terracotta that, as one visitor stated, if you did not know the sculptures were made over 500 years ago, you would think that they were made just yesterday.

The colors are still that vivid thanks to a unique glazing recipe developed by Luca della Robbia (1399/1400–1482). The sculptures produced by his family, based in Florence, Italy, are dramatic in design and expression and rather luminous.

detail from The Visitation, 1455, on loan from the church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas in Pistoia, Italy

Della Robbia’s signature colors of white and cerulean blue radiate with a brilliance that would become the family hallmark. There is a deep richness to the others colors as well.

For the exhibit the MFA pulled together nearly 50 objects from U.S. collections and from Italy. On view in the museum’s Lois B. and Michael K. Torf Gallery, the freestanding sculptures and other decorative pieces are organized around three themes – hope, love, and faith. Exhibit curator Marietta CAmbareri describes these as the virtues of the Renaissance, guiding peoples’ lives at the time.

The exhibit, a visual treat, runs through December 4th. More details available here: http://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/della-robbia


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detail from a brass candlestick

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painter's box of carol moses

painter’s box of carol moses

Visit the Riverside Gallery at the Cambridge Community Center from noon to 6pm today.  See artists at work. View their paintings, sculpture, photography and more.  Pieces are available for purchase including small totems by Cedric Harper (read more about this amazing artist here and here)


beautiful paintings by Adriana Prat (read more about her artistic expression here) …

vibrant works by Jenny L. Grassl blending words, letters and the visual

bold inks and watercolors by Carol Moses

and new work by artist Maki Takano

and I’ll be there!

Riverside Gallery 5 Callender Street, Cambridge


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Prior to my meeting with artist Cedric Harper I had emailed him a list of questions including a query about his sculpture, The Book of Truth. When we later met in a coffee shop, I noticed in his hands two pieces of paper. One was clearly the list of questions. The other I could not identify. A short slip with handwritten script. It didn’t matter. We began talking and what a wonder that was. Read more here.  But as I started to rise that day, thinking our conversation done, he stopped me. “Cynthia, ” he said with a smile.  “You haven’t asked me yet.  You haven’t asked me about the Book of Truth. Not everybody notices that one.”

book of truth sculpture by cedric harper, image courtesy of the artist

image courtesy of the artist

I told him that I had been struck by his use of color, the creaminess of the red, the smooth white upon the branches of the trees. Most of all I was made curious by the concept.  “What’s in that book?” I asked him.  As we began to talk about this book, our conversation ended where it had began, with family.

In Kansas, he’d grown up in a family with a strong oral tradition.  Stories were told often and life lessons emphasized. Those words of wisdom heard as a child and words of wisdom collected throughout adult life infuse his book of truth.

He worked on that sculpture for quite a while.  As he so frankly shared in the previous post, when his lover died in 1994, that was a pivotal moment in his life.  “I was lost. It took 15-18 years to feel like, to know that, I had a future. Part of gaining that future was creating this box of truths, of memories and experiences lived.” He handed me the slip of paper.

We may all have our book of truth. Those words and experiences garnered throughout our lives that guide us in how we try to live each day.  I appreciate the fact that Cedric Harper was moved to turn his book into sculpture. Here are some of his truths he chooses to share:

  1. Love is the escape from everything, an abyss of mind, body and soul.
  2. Every time one experiences a lapse in common sense the result makes them start over.
  3. Faith is to believe in things that we do not see and the reward of this faith is to see in what we believe.
  4. People should fall in love with their eyes closed. Just close your eyes. Don’t look … A. Warhol
  5. If you want to know your past life, look into your present condition. If you want to know your future, look into your present action. Padmasambhava
  6. Free from desire, you realize the mystery. Caught in desire, you only see the manifestations … Lao-Tsu
  7. Power is a drink that few can refuse …
  8. There is a quake that rips the soul asunder. It is the pain of remembering.

Cedric Harper Website

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