Artist's original sketch for Public Art Project.
TACL will offer jewelry-sized copies (necklaces and pins) of the original design as a fundraiser. Profits will be donated to the College of William & Mary Studio Art Department in Christina Fleckenstein's honor. The jewelry copies are being produced by Williamsburg artist Merrilee Cleveland who worked with Christina to develop the CAD design for the reproductions.
TACL Board Members: Christina Fleckenstein, Elizabeth Mead, Greg Lilly.
"Dawn," bronze sculpture by Christina Fleckenstein '18 will become part of the W&M President's Collection.
CELEBRATING OUR 24 FEMALE VANGUARDS
TACL Student Resident Artist 2017 - 18
William and Mary, Class of 2018
"Dawn" Bronze Casting by Christina Fleckenstein '18
The College of William and Mary was founded in 1693, becoming the second oldest university in the United States, and arguably the best. In 1918, the first twenty-four female students matriculated into The College, pioneering a world of academia dominated by their male counterparts. These brave feminists paved the way for generations of females to come. Because of these women, I was able to matriculate at the College of William and Mary in 2014. 2018 marks the centennial of female students at W&M, a celebration of these twenty-four women, and I could not be more ecstatic to share my graduation year with this momentous celebration.
At the College of William and Mary, I study Art and Art History and Neuroscience. I am indebted to these first female students, as their actions allowed me to pursue a higher education at one of the best liberal arts schools in the world. With the commission support and mentorship of the Triangle Arts and Culture League (TACL), I propose to create a bronze sculpture that commemorates these women and their courageous actions. I hope my creation will salute the efforts of these first female students, and go beyond to celebrate a culture of inclusion and leadership at W&M.
I have primarily worked in three-dimensional design at William and Mary. Because of my experiences creating in this dimension, I propose to create a sculpture to honor this centennial anniversary.
When brainstorming for this project, I first considered materials. The form should connote the weight and permanence of the major historical event that it celebrates; yet the sculpture should also feel warm and engaging, dynamic to each unique viewer. Furthermore, the medium needs be flexible to various designs, as my current vision will continue to evolve throughout the artistic process.
Bronze lends itself to all of these concerns: it is heavy and permanent, yet it can be colored through various patinas and it reflects light in a fleeting, active way. It is also the ‘final’ product of many complex steps, preceded by explorations in clay, alginate, plaster and wax. Each stage of this process allows for refinement and adjustment. Because creating in bronze is so multipart, the final sculpture is arguably more realized.
When I considered form, I envisioned a piece that felt personal, yet inclusive to all viewers, even those who are not personally connected to the event. I wish to create a form that references the first twenty-four females, yet is also ambiguous enough that all student and non-student viewers—female and male, current and graduated, majority or minority—can relate.
These concerns led me to my preliminary idea for a sculpture. The sculpture can best be described as follows: frame creates an orthogonal ‘box’ which leans so its bottom plane is away from the viewer; out of the box, toward the viewer, steps a woman’s foot; her hands are placed on the upper border of the box, as if pulling on it. See below for a preliminary sketch.
My design intends to connote a female form without explicit references, such as a heeled shoe, which may be interpreted stereotypical, derogatory or exclusive.
This ambiguous female figure literally steps out of a frame, creating a metaphor of the first female students at W&M stepping out of the ‘box.’ The box represents the social constructs, expectations and limitations of 1918. The figure in my sculpture literally pushes on these limitations and challenges the status quo. Just as the first twenty-four female students furthered W&M to be more inclusive, the woman in my piece expands the frame’s borders to become more encompassing.
I envision the sculpture to be approximately two-thirds life size and free standing on a pedestal at eye level. A receding angle of the box in combination with the figure stepping out toward the viewer will allow the sculpture to stand one its own, and will make it dynamic from all angles.
These descriptions reflect my ideas to date; however, I am certain that my conceptualization will evolve throughout the artistic process. Thus far, I have worked with both Ms. Merilee Cleveland, a freelance sculptor, W&M Professor Michael Gaynes and W&M Professor Ed Pease. These individuals have helped to push my ideas further as well as confirmed the feasibility of my project, given my abilities and my timeframe. I am confident that their feedback and mentorship throughout the creation processes will only further my design to become more powerful and poignant.
Methods and Materials
I have previous experience designing and building sculpture, but I believe that creating this commemorative piece will be an opportunity to expand my artistic capabilities. During the spring of 2017 I created a bronze sculpture through a W&M course titled The Figure and the Body, taught by Professor Gaynes. He is now mentoring me throughout the design and building process for my TACL-commissioned sculpture. Thus far, Professor Gaynes has been instrumental in teaching me how to use novel equipment in the studio, bypassing pragmatic dilemmas and providing constructive criticism to my artistic ideas.
To create my TACL sculpture, I will use the investment casting method. My preliminary sculpture will be created from clay, due to its malleable properties. To sculpt the hands and foot in the piece, I have utilized 3D rendering software as well as a cast from the leg of a model for anatomical reference. Sculpting the clay will be the most time-consuming aspect of this project, as revisions and adjustments are most easily made at this stage.
From the clay form, I will create a series of molds, the first of which will be a plaster or alginate negative. From this cast, I will create a hollow wax positive. The dried wax positive will be irrigated with wax gating, and this irrigated form will be encased with wire, felt and filled with an organic plaster-concrete mix. Once this mix has dried (containing the wax sculpture), I will burn out the wax and complete a bronze pour. This will produce a hollow bronze sculpture; however because my piece is so large, I will likely have to create four to five separate forms and weld them together after the pour. Once cooled, the bronze can be neatened, and somewhat manipulated through sandblasting, chiseling and patina.
I will accomplish all of these steps in the facilities in Andrews Hall on William and Mary’s campus. Professor Michael Gaynes and I have worked together to estimate costs of the materials for the sculpture (see the signed Licensing Agreement). I have allotted 4 hours per academic week to work on this project, cumulating in approximately 60 hours throughout the semester. Below is a sample schedule of when I will accomplish these tasks throughout a normal academic week. Note that the lilac block is time dedicated to this TACL project.
Installment and Interaction
This past August, Ms. Jayne Barnard and I met to discuss possibilities for my project. Ms. Barnard is a W&M faculty who is planning and leading the centennial celebration. Based on this discussion and more recent correspondence in October, it seems that there are several viable locations where my sculpture could be installed, such as the alumni house located on William and Mary’s Campus. Ms. Barnard has offered to help me correspond with additional W&M faculty and staff, facilitating the installation of my project in a campus building.
The Triangle Arts and Culture League supports art in all of its forms. By commissioning my proposed project, TACL would partake in the celebration of this momentous historical event. Should my project be installed in an academic building, it would be visible to diverse passerby. Students, visiting parents, Williamsburg tourists and the greater local community would all experience the sculpture; each would engage in this celebration and with W&M’s inclusive community. In this sense, TACL will be promoting the viewership and accessibility of art.
My piece will likely affect diverse viewers in unique capacities. The anniversary may touch some in personal ways. For individuals less familiar or connected with this historical narrative, the anniversary may be more informative rather than intimate. Regardless, I hope my sculpture will become a visual acknowledgement of the female pioneers at W&M to all who view it. Even greater, I hope it will be a daily reminder for the many leaders throughout history who have challenged the status quo of society and fought for a more inclusive space. In this sense, this celebration can increasingly become a part of our daily vernacular.