Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A statue of responsibility

Viktor Frankl, the wise psychiatrist and Holocost survivor, once said that to complement the Statue of Liberty on the east coast, America should erect a Statue of Responsibility on the west coast.

I've thought about that vision, and believe it to be good, even great. I began to brainstorm how to make it happen. My thinking was to have a first stage that would involve a contest for design. The steering committee would raise an amount of seed money for an award, and then solicit submissions from American artists ... we could invite people across the country to comment upon designs via the web. If nothing else, such a contest would start the conversation about responsibility. If there were enough energy and interest, then the second phase could be explored ... site selection and raising the money for a full size statue.

However, a quick web search revealed that someone has beaten me to the idea. The Statue of Responsibility Foundation, based in Utah, has already taken the step of commissioning a design and starting to raise funds for the full sized statue. Their goal was to start construction this year (but they're still a ways behind on fundraising). This foundation is working as a private initiative, not seeking any public funding until the statue is completed and ready to be gifted to the US Park service.
The design they've chosen is interesting...two giant hands clasping on a vertical axis:

Honestly, I'm not wild about the design for this project. It's a neat concept piece....likely I'd enjoy it in a gallery or someone's home, but it doesn't carry for me the iconic impact of the Statue of Liberty. Lady Liberty is a full figure, an individual. You can peer into her eyes. She has an expression. I don't get that sense from the artist's rendering of the Statue of Responsibility.

I love the concept of a Statue of Responsibility, but I'm not sure I'm on board with what this planning committee has put together. What think you?