The centennial committee is considering a statue showing Anthony as a child and as her older, more recognizable age.
ADAMS, Mass. — The Adams Suffrage Centennial Celebration Committee has been given the go-ahead for plans to install a bronze statue of native daughter Susan B. Anthony on the Town Common.
Committee member Erin Mucci said the approval last week will allow the committee to send out a request for proposals and seek input from artists around the country.
"This will allow site work to begin and we will be able to include pictures and a layout of the town common," she said. "We will be able to get what we hope some very thoughtful conceptual designs and drawings."
Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco said the board will still want to a detailed plan before final approval.
"The board will vote on a final plan in the future. This is the beginning of the process, not the end," he said. He added that the town may also be able to capture state grants that will allow design work for the Town Common itself.
"Even without the statue the town common is getting to get a little tired," Mazzucco said. "We are looking at it in conjunction with the statue and we know it's time to freshen up the town common a bit."
Anthony, a Quaker born in Adams, became one of the most prominent activists in the late 19th century for civil rights and women's right to vote. She was arrested in 1872 for voting in what was then her hometown of Rochester, N.Y. She didn't live to see the 19th Amendment, establishing women's right to vote, became enacted, dying 14 years before its ratification at the age of 86.
The celebration committee met several weeks ago with Middlefield-based sculptor Andrew DeVries to discuss the process of creating a bronze sculpture of Anthony to mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment in 2020.
DeVries went through the bronzing process and fielded questions from the committee but urged that committee get a move on.
"I got to tell you, you really need to get on the ball because it may be two years away but it's challenging," he said. "You need to get this all on paper and really tie down what you want."
The committee has some loose ideas of what it wanted after months of deliberation between the committee and relatives of Anthony.
They settled on a younger Anthony, possibly the age of 6 when she would have been an Adams resident, posed with an older more recognizable version.
"Our claim is to the young Susan B. Anthony. That is very important to us," committee member Bill Kolis said. "Many of the values that went on to make her one of the most important women in the history of the United States were formed right here in Adams."
There have been different locations discussed, including Town Hall, the small park on Park Street or near the President McKinley statue, however, the consensus was the Town Common.
"The feeling was the Town Common provides an opportunity for people to go up and appreciate it," Kolis said. "With the McKinley statue, it is visible by automobiles but virtually inaccessible by people. The plaques are unreadable and you take your life in your hands if you want to try."
Mucci said that with both Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School and Hoosac Valley Elementary School near the common, children could interact with the life-sized statues.
"I want people to be able to interact with it, and I'd like a little girl to be able to sit next to the young Susan B. Anthony and have that feeling," she said. "I want people to be able to interact with it and be part of it."
DeVries said he would need to understand the site plan and the parameters and was willing to consult with the committee and help landscape and design the basic concept of the statue and area but that would mean more of his time and a higher cost.
There is no way to estimate a charge at this point, he said. "I have no clue you haven't given me enough information yet."
Sculpting the statue and formings the casts for the bronzing can easily take well over six months.
DeVries brought the committee through the bronzing process and presented a slide show of a 15-foot bronze sculpture he created.
The first step is a maquette, a small preliminary model of the final sculpture, then a structure is made out of wood and plaster on which to adhere the clay. Once that is completed, it's cut into pieces to create individual bronzing casts.
"Bronzes are not cast in one shot. There is no foundry I know of in the U.S. that does that," he said. "In Italy, you might still get one for a one size life-size bronze."
The next major step is to put layers of rubber on the pieces and create a rubber mold that will untimely create a wax copy of the sculpture that is finished and trimmed. The wax models are covered in a special slurry mix that creates a ceramic shell that has an inner and outer mold.
"Everything you do in the bronze process is important, and you mess up one place you have messed up the entire process and you have to fix it in the end," DeVries said. "It is about 20 times harder to fix a bronze than it is to fix a wax."
Wax is removed from the shell, which is packed into a sand container for pouring. Bronze melts at 1,875 degrees and DeVries said you typically want the temperature around 2,150 degrees before you pour.
Once poured and cooled the ceramic shell cracks to unveil the bronze parts of the statue that need to be finished, sandblasted and welded together.
DeVries said at this point he will add a patina by applying differed acids to the sculpture that oxidize the copper and changes its color from light brown to black
The statue is then mounted on granite.
DeVries said he was happy residents attended the presentation that was held at the Visitors Center and hopes the community is involved in the bronzing process.
"It's educational and a lot of people don't know what goes into a work of art especially sculpture," he said. "You want the community to own this process and you want them to feel part of it."
The committee plans to host a fundraising campaign to fund the project for 2020. Mucci said more information on the committee's website where people can donate or purchase custom Susan B. Anthony jewelry.
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