This is girl power at its finest.
The Virginia Capitol Foundation’s latest project is finally underway, as the first four bronze statues for the Virginia Women’s Monument were commissioned this week. Voices from the Garden: The Virginia Women’s Monument will ultimately feature 12 important women from Virginia’s history who represent the struggles and accomplishments of women in Virginia from the past 400 years.
The statues will take several months to be completed. This will be the latest positive addition to Richmond’s contentious monument-heavy landscape.
The first four statues feature Cockacoeske, Anne Burras Laydon, Virginia E. Randolph, and Adèle Clark. A Pamunkey leader, an original settler, a post-Civil War black educator, and a champion of the arts and the suffrage movement are among 12 women who broke glass ceilings and persevered through hundreds of years of misogyny.
Randolph, the child of former slaves, taught school in Goochland, Hanover, and Henrico counties. While teaching at Henrico’s Mountain Road School, she developed a new approach to education by creating a successful formula based on practicality, creativity, and involvement from parents and the community. She went on to become the first Jeanes Supervisor Industrial Teacher in 1908, a position she held for over 40 years.
Cockacoeske, (top middle), became leader of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe after the death of her husband, Totopotomoy, in 1656. On May 29, 1677, she signed the Treaty of Middle Plantation, which secured tribal hunting rights and land ownership as well as united several tribes under her authority.
Helping to establish the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia in 1909, Adèle Clark played a major role in shaping the woman’s suffrage movement. Clark went on speaking tours to set up chapters throughout the state and was selected as the first chair of the newly organized Virginia League of Women Voters, where she twice served as president. She also helped to establish Virginia’s Art Commission, a precursor to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
“These women played important roles in the early years of the Old Dominion’s recorded history and in the 20th Century when our state and country were undergoing seismic social changes,” said Susan Clarke Schaar, Clerk of the Senate and a member of the Virginia Women’s Monument Commission. “Their stories richly deserve to be remembered and told.”
Other featured women include Maggie L. Walker and Martha Washington. Of the women depicted, four are women of color and eight are white.
In May, StudioEIS held a three-day photo shoot in Brooklyn, N.Y., where 12 female actors dressed in period clothing and posed for designers. Using a 3-D method, artists will use these photos to create molds that will ultimately be used to build the life-sized bronze statues. The monument, whose construction began in June, will be in the oval-shaped plaza in Capitol Square, near the Virginia State Capitol Building.
StudioEIS is a Brooklyn-based sculpture and design studio that created the design for the monument. Each of the 12 statues requires a $200,000 investment to be commissioned. The final date of completion is currently undetermined.
Photo credit for Virginia E. Randolph (top right): County of Henrico, Virginia, Historic Preservation and Museum Services. Photo Credit for Adèle Clark(top left): Virginia Museum of History & Culture