One of these five artists will design Philly's new Marian Anderson sculpture - Upsmag - Magazine News

One of these five artists will design Philly’s new Marian Anderson sculpture

As the drive to erect a sculpture honoring Philadelphia singer and civil rights leader Marian Anderson moves closer to realization, five artists have been named finalists in the competitive process to select a single design.

Vinnie Bagwell, Richard Blake, Branly Cadet, Tanda Francis, and Alvin Pettit will now have three months to prepare design proposals for the project’s jury, which aims to make its final selection by September.

The five artists, chosen from a group of 51 individual artists or teams responding to a call for entries, were picked because of an ability to capture ideas in realistic figurative form, and for their experience in public art, said Theresa Rose, the art consultant attached to the project.

“One attribute that kept rising to the surface were the human qualities,” said Rose. “After you look at 51 submissions, you really start to see which artists can capture the feel of a person and the natural human qualities that make it seem like someone is about to speak — or maybe sing, in Marian Anderson’s case.”

The proposed sculpture will stand at Broad and Locust Streets, outside of the Academy of Music, though the exact spot has not been finalized. The idea of ​​raising a statue to the South Philadelphia-born contralto has been discussed for decades, with the current effort taking shape after publication of an Inquirer column advocating for it.

The project has a projected budget of $1.2 million, which includes money for an endowment plus funds to support the South Philadelphia house museum devoted to Anderson’s legacy. About $240,000 has been raised so far, said Fred Stein, one of the project’s organizers.

Planners hope that an artist selection and public release of a design will spur fund-raising, which is being facilitated through the Philadelphia Foundation.

Each of the finalists has substantial experience in works similar to the Marian Anderson sculpture project.

Bagwell has just completed five sculptures for The Enslaved Africans’ Rain Gardento be dedicated in June in Yonkers, NY In the same city, she created an Ella Fitzgerald sculpture at the Metro North train station.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Frederick Douglass are among the figures realized in sculpture by Blake, a graduate of Temple University’s Tyler School.

Cadet has created sculptures of Jackie Robinson, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Shakespeare, and others, and is best known locally as the sculptor of A Quest for Parity: The Octavius ​​V. Catto Memorial at Philadelphia’s City Hall.

Francis is the sculptor of public art pieces in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn and in Queensbridge Park, Long Island City, Her work often examines the human condition through the lens of an African ancestral past and diaspora.

Subjects of Pettit‘s sculptural work have included Mary McLeod Bethune, Lady Gaga, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Louis Armstrong.

The planners behind the Marian Anderson sculpture project are interested in a final design that is traditional and representational — full body and realistic.

“There’s very little room for sort of more avant-garde ideas,” said Rose. “I think that the committee will be somewhat open, but at the end of the day they really would like a sculpture of Marian Anderson to look like Marian Anderson.”

To give to the Marian Anderson sculpture project:

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