AUSTIN, Texas – Artist Bruce Wolfe of Piedmont, Calif., has been chosen to create a statue of Barbara Jordan, the first statue of a woman to be installed on The University of Texas at Austin campus.
University President William Powers Jr. said the Barbara Jordan Statue Advisory Committee unanimously recommended the artist after a nationwide search conducted during the fall semester of 2006. The commemorative bronze statue will be placed at Battle Oaks near the Main Building and the unveiling is tentatively scheduled for spring 2009.
“The university community is very proud that Barbara Jordan’s presence will remain visible on the campus where she spent her final 17 years as a teacher and mentor,” Powers said. “Throughout her lifetime, Barbara Jordan broke down the barriers of race and gender in a distinguished list of American ‘firsts,’ most notably in the Texas Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. And so we are elated that she will be the first woman memorialized in bronze on our campus. This is a great moment for the entire UT family and for the people of Texas.”
“Wolfe has impressed the committee with his artistic ability, his knowledge of Barbara Jordan and his ideas for the statue and surrounding area,” said Meggie Sudderth, incoming chair of the Barbara Jordan Statue Project Committee. “Based on the quality of the work he submitted, we are confident he will produce a piece that is right for the UT Austin community, and will capture her spirit and memory.”
The Barbara Jordan Statue Project Committee is composed of student, staff and alumni representatives, and is coordinated by Associate Dean of Students Dr. Sherri Sanders. In April 2007, the committee solicited public feedback online and at the maquette display site, as well as through a series of open forums held on campus and in the greater Austin community.
“I know I speak for many students and educators when I say how excited I am that Barbara Jordan is being honored on our campus,” said Dr. Juan González, vice president for student affairs. “Her strength, determination and wisdom continue to inspire and I know her statue will be a striking reflection of her reach across our state and our nation. Congratulations to the Barbara Jordan Statue Advisory Committee on seeing this important project through to completion. You have done a great service to the memory and continued legacy of Barbara Jordan, one of our most remarkable Texans.”
Some of the artist’s most prominent work may be seen at colleges, museums and galleries across the country and worldwide. A portrait of Asian Art Commissioner and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Chong-Moon Lee is at the New Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. A likeness of heart transplant pioneer Dr. Norman Shumway was unveiled in May 2004 at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Two 1996 bronzes of George P. Shultz, former secretary of state, are at Stanford University and at Hebrew University in Israel.
Wolfe received his training at San Jose State University and the Art Institute of San Francisco. He has studied with Bettina Steinke and Bruno Lucchesi and has taught figure painting at San Francisco’s Academy of Art, as well as sculpture and painting at the College of Arts in Oakland, Calif.
“I want to thank the people of Austin who voted for my depiction of Barbara Jordan,” said Wolfe. “For me this is a lifetime achievement award. She was a woman without equal. This is a great honor.”
For many years, members of The University of Texas at Austin community discussed the need for greater ethnic and gender diversity in the statues and other prominent works of art on campus. Students took the initiative in 2003 by passing a referendum mandating that a $1 per student fee be collected to erect two statues on campus, representing a Latino and a woman who had made significant contributions to society. Student-initiated committees recommended that the statues be of two nationally recognized champions of civil rights: Jordan and civil rights and labor leader Cesar Chavez.
Bruce Wolfe’s Remarks Regarding Sculpture
Mr. Wolfe says,”You talk about personality and presence combined with a voracious appetite for the truth. Who today, stands as tall as Barbara Jordan?”
This is Barbara Jordan at her best. She looks confident and serene. She is well dressed, as usual. She is at the height of her career.
I think this is how she personally would like to be remembered. Looking at this image, we are reminded of her strong persona and brilliant mind. She was tough with a soft edge. She walked the walk and talked the talk. She had a good sense of humor. She played hardball with the big boys. She was a great human being.
I think the sculpture can remind people of Barbara the woman, but the combination of the sculpture and the quotes can act as an inspiration for individuals for years to come. She stood as a powerful inspiration and role model for people of all ages and background. Reading her thoughts while viewing the sculpture can give the greatest insight to the person that was Barbara Jordan.