This photo, (taken with permission) is a portion of one of a collection of sculpture by the artist John Waddell. The entire collection is named "That Which Might Have Been". When it was dedicated at its permanent home, it was so done with the following affirmation:
"From a world torn asunder by artificial and meaningless barriers - where differences create misunderstanding and fear - we look to a future of harmony and peace, where difference quickens interest, reveals beauty and creates a desire to understand. To the achievement of such a world we dedicate this art, memorializing the lives of four innocents."
-John Henry Waddell, Artist
As I one day again viewed this multi-piece sculpture, I was struck by how the shadow of the shoulder of one piece fell, seemingly, under the foot of another, and was reminded of the many women who, having been elevated to some level of stature within their closed social circles, now so diligently work to deny women equality, and one must assume, unknowingly so. It was the cartoonist Walt Kelly, who said, via his character “Pogo” “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Food for thought.
Here is the story of the sculpture as explained by the website of the organization housing it:
"On September 15, 1963, a bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama shocked the nation. It took the lives of four young girls - Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, and Addie Mae Collins.
On that same Sunday, the young Reverend Raymond Manker was preaching his second service as the new minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Phoenix.
Soon thereafter, Rev. Manker dedicated a service to the Civil Rights movement then sweeping the country. The service included artwork. One piece depicted a poor African-American women in ragged clothes in a slum area of Chicago. Text in the bubble over her head read, “You don’t care about the poor, do you?”
The artist, John Henry Waddell, was white, but the emotional reaction of the congregation to the image as both strong and immediate. It led to the creation of the memorial garden sculpture “That Which Might Have Been, Birmingham, 1963.” The work is a memorial to the four girls who died and to the future they were denied. Rev. Manker said that Waddell felt this was the piece he’d been born to create.
The statuary stand as a prayer of atonement, symbolizing the unfulfilled maturity of the four girls killed in Birmingham. They imply nobility, perseverance and hope. The negative space in the center implies the vase of a vortex reaching heavenward, suggesting the need and desire for a supernatural aid. The entire setting is meant as an earnest hope for understanding among all humankind.
I have pledged to donate a portion of all proceeds from all sales of my photos of the piece (including this one) to the ongoing preservation of the memorial garden.
The white "fine art America" watermark shown is removed from all sold images.
September 13th, 2012
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