A transformation. A metamorphosis.
An ability to change darkness into a glowing beam of light.
This work represents a transitioning period like a metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. No matter how dark our days are, the possibility of winning a purposeful day remains. Dr. Maya Angelou’s story and teachings are testimony to that fact.
Materials used for the monument consists of two historically achievable materials: Bronze metal and granite stone. The monument is designed in 3 parts:Two larger than life size bronze statues and a radial curved granite stone wall that
presents one of Dr. Maya Angelou’s finest quotes.
First Bronze Statue - 1.25 x life size:
Dr. Maya Angelou in her golden years sits refined and reflective as she gazes upon her yesteryears as a seven-year old girl poised for the world. Known to rent out a room in her favorite hometown hotel for solitude to write, this bronze statue depicts Dr. Maya Angelou exercising her greatest gift. She is typing away on her typewriter and about to bestow upon us another one of her written gems for the world to lavish over. This Dr. Maya Angelou is the scholar, sage, teacher, mother, activist, and humanitarian that we have all come to adore and celebrate. The statue’s face of Dr. Maya Angelou is reflecting upon her journey and bestows her wisdom upon young girls and all walks of life about universal love and the potential that lies within each and every one of us. In mid stroke of the typewriter’s keys she looks up in memory and reflects upon her humble beginnings when she was a seven-year old girl. In doing so she manifests the presence of the seven-year old Maya only six feet from her. In memory she recounts the many great literary works she read as a youth that enriched her imagination and her life as a whole. The juxtaposition between the two statues become beautifully poetic as the narrative eloquently speaks about the duality of beginning and end. And in this wonderful narrative the conduit is about the life-giving power of literature.
I have created a typewriter in a state of virtual reality without the support of a table. The idea of abstraction comes from the desire to alter the perception of a
linear static piece. It becomes a design devise that allows the viewer’s imagination to wonderfully fill in the form. Less is more.
Second Bronze Statue - 1.25 x life size:
Through Dr. Maya Angelou’s testimony of her childhood traumas we bear witness to her strength, courage and resilience. This statue is of a young Maya, Marguerite Ann Johnson, age seven-years old who stands in utter silence, isolated and with limited emotional tools to circumvent the harshness of her circumstance. In a 6-year self-muted condition she embraces her saving grace, her rock, her tool to escape the confines of pain. In her silence, literature, the written word, the greatest novels and poetry written become her lighthouse in the dense fog of emotion. This sculpture of the young Maya Angelou stands on one tippy toe in a flight like position to evoke the whimsical nature that explores creative literature and its vast realms. This flight like motion resembles escapism, freedom and literary wonderment. This gesture takes on book’s uncanny ability to enchant our minds and dispositions. As a young adult dancing became a passionate outlet for Dr. Maya Angelou and would capture her spirit for years. She danced her way onto stages across the nation and appeared in the film Calypso Heat Wave (1958). I wanted to honor Dr. Maya Angelou’s passion for dance by capturing a beautiful gestural movement in the statue. The figure of this young Maya stands upon a birdcage that represents Dr. Maya Angelou’s most famous work “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” (1969). The caged bird sits upon a short stack of books, which is comprised of Dr. Maya Angelou’s poetry “And Still I rise” and other books by authors who greatly influenced her. The names of authors such as Edgar Allen Poe, Shakespeare, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Lewis Carol and her friend James Baldwin grace the spines of the books. In the sculpture’s gestural attempt a duality occurs between the nature of imaginative literature, the literary works of Dr. Maya Angelou and other famous writers throughout history. The sculpture becomes dynamic in its characteristics as it explores the rich mind of a young reader.
The Granite Stone Wall:
The two bronze figures will sit at opposing ends upon a white stone wall. The wall will roughly be 9ft wide, a little over a foot in depth and 5ft in height. The entire monument will be raised on a slab of 3” stone to be compliant with (ADA). The height of the monument is roughly over 8ft at its highest point, which would be the head of the 7 year-old that is flying above in an imaginative flight-like freedom. The curved white stonewall will become a surface where one of Dr. Maya Angelou’s greatest quotes is engraved into the granite.
“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.” - Dr. Maya Angelou
In terms of scale each individual bronze determines height of the monument. The older Dr. Maya Angelou sculpture will reach up to 7ft” in height. The highest point of the monument will be the head of the seven-year-old sculpture of Maya Angelou, which measures slightly over 8ft” in height. In addressing ADA compliance the granite wall sits upon a 3” slab of granite stone. This stone slab will consistently surround the stone wall by a measurement of 2ft. The most protruding parts of the bronze sculpture are the young Maya’s left arm elbow and her extended right foot. These two concerning points in the bronze sculpture will stick out beyond the 2ft ADA measurement base. To give the young Maya a sense of flying through imagination she is perched high above the monument. This height gives her elbow and foot an accessible walkway clearance that is no lower than 7ft in height. The maintenance for this monument relies upon the traditional method for the upkeep of bronze and granite statues throughout the world. Periodic cleaning with a mild soap and water will leave the sculptures in a healthy condition for hundreds of years. Because of San Francisco corrosive environment it is best that the two bronze sculptures be waxed 3 to 4 times a year to give them a nice coat of protection. Facing the Main Library’s entrance the monument will sit on the left side of the library’s doors and will be facing southwest into the setting sun.
Timeline from creating clay sculptures to completed bronze sculptures ready for delivery is about twelve months. 5 months for the creation of the two clay figures in my studio and 7 months for Artworks Foundry Inc. to bring the statues to full bronze. If I am awarded the commission, I will commence the work immediately
after its announcement. Projected completion and deliverable date by the end of September 2020.
View a larger image of the proposal.