|Amelia Earhart at Lundeen Studios|
It has been a long flight for Amelia Earhart but at last she will reach her destination! In 1999 the Kansas state legislature voted to replace the two 19th century statues in the National Statuary Hall. The subjects of the two new statues were chosen at that time--Amelia and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The funds for Eisenhower's statue were promptly raised, and his statue was installed in 2003. Fundraising for Amelia did not proceed so quickly.
An organization called Equal Visibility Everywhere, EVE, stepped in to help. This nonpartisan organization is dedicated to placing more women among our nation's symbols and icons, and they worked with people in Atchison, Kansas, Amelia's hometown, to complete the raising of $300,000 needed to complete the design and get Amelia Earhart to Statuary Hall. In 2010, a spokesman for EVE estimated that with Amelia's popularity the necessary funds could be raised and the statue completed in 3 or 4 years. Obviously, that prediction was overly optimistic, but the important result is that despite the delay the dream was realized.
An impressive group was formed to review the proposals from sculptors from across the country, which included representation from the National Women of Arts Museum in Washington, D.C., the Wichita Art Museum and the Spencer Art Museum at the University of Kansas; both the Festival Chair and a businessman from Atchison, Kansas; the Chair of EVE; Amelia's niece, and the President of the 99s, the famed International Organization of Women Pilots. Thirty-two sculptor proposals were received and the top five were invited to send additional information, including a maquette of their proposed sculpture (a miniature clay sculpture of their proposed design).
George and Mark Lundeen of Lundeen Studios in Loveland, Colorado were chosen, and they were tasked to produce not only the statue for the National Statuary Hall but also its twin for the Amelia Earhart Hanger Museum in Atchison, Kansas. The image above is from the Museum website showing the straightening of the clay statue in preparation for casting.
If you missed last week's post about Nebraska's choice of Willa Cather to represent their state in the National Statuary Hall, you may scroll down to the post below to read more. Bravo to these Great Plains states for adding two important American women to the inadequate number of women in Statuary Hall. Long may they remain there to represent the achievements of two gifted and brave women from the plains!