Poised at the foot of KBS’ Main & Gervais, a 186,303-square-foot trophy-quality office tower, Architecture of Strength faces the South Carolina State House as a direct statement that, though there are a wealth of monuments on the State House grounds — many of them controversial — none of them celebrate women in a way that’s as meaningful.
“As part of the Columbia community, we couldn’t be prouder of the Architecture of Strength monument and the meaning it symbolizes,” said Allen Aldridge, asset manager for the Main & Gervais building, co-director of asset management and senior vice president for KBS. “Not only is it an inspirational icon, the statue is a fitting complement to the Main & Gervais building. Architecture of Strength will be a draw to the area for many years to come.”
Made of 316 polished stainless-steel pipes that are laser-cut and welded, Architecture of Strength is a work by renowned South Carolina artist Deedee Morrison, a resident of Greenville, SC.
“The sculpture is a form made up of many parts, the parts of the female that are invaluable in every community,” said Morrison. “Family, vision, courage, strength, integrity, honor, hope, resilience, intelligence, compassion, steadfastness, determination and drive hold our community together. The faceless, nameless nature of this art represents the idea that it takes all kinds of women, all shapes, all sizes, and beliefs, to build a community.”
Placement of the sculpture was a conscious decision, made to create a conversation and confront the lack of women’s representation in the public sphere, speaking truth at the physical intersection of the major power in the community: commerce (Main Street) and government (Gervais Street).
“As one of the most traveled intersections in South Carolina’s capital city, this monument is a daily reminder of women’s strength, perseverance and power,” said Robin Waites, executive director of Historic Columbia, who spoke at the unveiling’s press conference.
An initiative of Columbia City of Women, Architecture of Strength is meant to inspire the community to learn more about the historical contributions women have made in the city and to set a more hopeful and inclusive vision of the future.
“Women deserve to be seen and heard in this city,” said Ann Warner, executive director of WREN (Women’s Rights Empowerment Network), who also spoke at the press conference. “This is a lasting monument to women from the past and present who pushed boundaries, stood up for others, and made Columbia a better place.”
According to the webpage for Architecture of Strength:
“Of the 5,575 public art representing historical figures in the United States, only 559 portray women, a mere 10% of all statues, according to the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The South Carolina State House grounds hold more than 30 monuments erected to recognize men, but not women in any meaningful way.”
The statue’s unique form and function are an ode to all women:
- She represents hope. She represents integrity. She is welcoming to all.
- The form starts with the foundation – or the first column, a circle. The pillar of strength.
- The layering of the lives in meaning and the contributions of these women to Columbia, create the form.
- The sculpture – a form made up of many parts. The parts of the female that are invaluable in every community. This fabric holds us all together: family, vision, courage, strength, integrity, honor, hope, resilience, intelligence, compassion, steadfastness, determination, and drive.
- The faceless, nameless nature of this art represents the idea that it takes all kinds of women, all shapes, all sizes, and beliefs to build a community.
For more photos of this distinct piece of South Carolina, please visit: here.