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Sculptor Sabin Howard on a mission to effect lasting social progress through art

By Charu Suri
via the Architectural Digest magazine web site

A brand-new “Great Women Sculpture Initiative” (GWSI), which aims to change the way women are portrayed in sculpture, is celebrating female leadership in human rights, civil rights, and women’s rights.

IMG 9099Two female figures from the maquette of the sculpture for the National World War I Memorial in Washington, D, created by Sabin Howard..“Female figures have historically been hidden in a masculine archetype or shell,” sculptor Sabin Howard, who designed the National World War I Memorial, tells Architectural Digest. After having seen some of the photographs of great women like Coretta Scott King and Eleanor Roosevelt, he realized that these women, while they appear powerful on the stage, ended up looking really meek and submissive in sculptural form. Few sculptures show women having the energy or power that the Hellenistic Winged Victory (at the Louvre, Paris) possesses.

“The new GWSI sculptures are meant to embody a visual idea of women—specifically, a new aesthetic of empowerment. They are also intended to create conversation on a cultural level,” he adds.

The initiative is led by Howard as well as two other women: Desiree Watson, and Howard’s wife, Traci Slatton. Howard has spent over 50,000 hours sculpting from life models and has a vision of how he would re-create the figures of Coretta Scott King and Eleanor Roosevelt in bronze, a material he says “will far outlive us all.” With maquettes and drawings, he and his supporters have started the process to create a body of work of female sculptures to be shown as a traveling exhibit to museums. A book and documentary about the process of creation will follow. 

This initiative hopes to dissipate a subterranean cultural notion that women are not supposed to take up space. “I want to sculpt women who take up space so confidently that they command the space,” he says. The typical female sculpture is passive, with self-contained gestures. She rarely has the energy of the Winged Victory. “The sternum of this (Hellenistic) sculpture is pitched towards the light; it leads the body and core’s energy forward,” observes Howard. This statue speaks of a universal, mythological female archetype.

Read the entire article on the Architectural Digest web site here:

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