Monthly Archives: August 2012

Fern Cunningham

Boston sculptor Fern Cunningham has produced several powerful city monuments that directly address the African-American experience. Her monument to Harriet Tubman in Boston’s South End neighborhood illustrates the Civil War-era activist ushering a group of slaves to safety. “The Sentinel,” at Forest Hills cemetery’s sculpture walk, is a life size, bronze sculpture of an African wise woman observing, according to Cunningham “all that transpires.”
Cunningham is interested in teaching history through her work:
“I was enthralled with the famous Greek sculpture, “Nike” or “The Winged Samothrace” and Michaelangelo’s “Pieta.” I wanted to work like that, only I wanted to do it from a black cultural standpoint. … I see myself as an educator through my sculpture and I am always trying to bring forth what is missing in American sculpture and to pay homage to the people who have not been acknowledged. If you talk to most black students or kids who are in maybe high school and ask them what they think of public sculpture, most of them have never even noticed any. … Because they don’t see themselves. So if you see a billion different bronzes of white people or white men on horseback in a uniform because they killed someone in some war, and you do not relate to that at all, this is not of your experience, you don’t even see it. So for these kids, my goal is to say “look, there you are!” and this is why it’s important for me to work figuratively…”
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Retracing Meta

Meta Fuller‘s home (31 Warren Road) and studio (135 Warren Road, on Learned Pond) still stand in Framingham, Massachusetts. A quiet, upper-middle class neighborhood when Meta and her family lived there 100 years ago, this winding street has become densely populated but is essentially a place she would recognize today. Her church, St. Andrew’s Episcopal, is a few blocks away. St. Andrew’s is home to Fuller’s small “Crucifixion” which hangs in a hallway between the main chapel and the parish offices. The bronze figure, about 16″ high, reveals Rodin’s influence on Fuller, who lived in Paris for several years around the turn of the last century and met the sculptor during her studies at the École des Beaux-Arts.