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My Historical Archives Part II: FDR to National Park Service Resource Center

July 8, 2016 1 comment

Over a five-year period, I made thousands of photographs of sculptor Neil Estern creating the full-round statues of President Roosevelt, Eleanor and their dog Fala for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Park in Washington, DC. Dozens of the images were reproduced in the book Shaping A President: Sculpting for the Roosevelt Memorial, written by Kelli Peduzzi; and a large group of black & white darkroom prints and color photographs appeared in solo and group exhibits across the United States. (Many of these images are on my website.)

I followed Estern working on this historic project as he sculpted the tiny maquettes and larger scale models in clay in his Brooklyn studio, enlarged them in clay at Tallix Art Foundry in Beacon, NY, and supervised the many phases of bronze casting.   At each stage of creation, I was struck by the forceful personae emerging out of inert substances. Neil’s concentration was total. The figures, even in armature form, seemed to interact with him and appreciate his perfectionism.

I felt like a fly on the wall. I endeavored to illustrate the unfolding emotional relationship between the sculptor’s artistic intensity and the complex personalities of the President and First Lady emerging from armature and clay.

The Memorial Park was inaugurated in May 1997.

Last summer, I contacted various government archives to find a home for my archives. I was thrilled when they were accepted by the National Park Service. Their offices and storage facilities are located in Washington, CD and Maryland, where objects related to the monuments on the National Mall and Memorial Parks in this area of the country are preserved.  Here are the materials in my studio before I packed them up:

I still retain the copyright, however, and sets of exhibition prints.  My husband and I drove to Maryland earlier this year to deliver them to Curator Laura Anderson.

Archive Bldg

Me with Laura

The next day we were given a tour of the facility by Tom Sonderman, Director of the NCR Museum Resource Center,. It was fascinating.  Along with historical documents, there were objects left at the Vietnam Memorial by visitors, furniture from historic homes and all sorts of interesting ephemera.

I am honored that these historic materials – negatives, slides, darkroom notes, work prints, shooting diary, etc. are now part of this wonderful archive, where they are available to the public for research and exhibitions.  2017 will be the 20th anniversary of the monument park and there is talk of an exhibit.  Meanwhile, I am on to new projects!

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