AUSTIN, Texas– After nearly 10 years of effort, the students at The University of Texas at Austin are one step closer to having a sculpture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. erected on the East Mall of the campus. The Martin Luther King Jr. Sculpture Committee is unveiling the maquette’s (scale models) produced by the five artists who are finalists vying for the commission of this historic project at the University.
The unveiling is scheduled for Tuesday (Sept. 23) at 11:45 a.m. in the outer lobby of the Flawn Academic Center.
The five finalists, Tina Allen of Beverly Hills, Calif.; Ed Dwight of Denver, Colo.; Ralph Helmick of Newton, Mass., Wendy Ross of Bethesda, Md.; and the husband-and-wife team of Anna Koh-Varilla and Jeffrey Varilla of Chicago, Ill., were awarded honorariums of $5,000 each after being named as finalist’s by the MLK Committee in February 1996.
The honorariums allowed each artist to develop a scale model reflecting their vision of the sculpture. “This has been a long time in coming,” said Terry Wilson, chairman of the Martin Luther King Jr. Sculpture Committee and associate director of UT Austin’s Office of Public Affairs. “I am pleased that we are one step closer to completing this project and that we have five creative concepts from which to choose.”
The artist’s maquettes will be on public display in the Flawn Academic Center for approximately three weeks. “This has been a student-led initiative on campus since its inception in 1987,” said Wilson. “The committee welcomes comments from students, faculty, administrators and staff as well as the general public, and we have created a web site to facilitate that process.” The web address is: www.utexas.edu/general/mlksculpture.
While the MLK Committee wants comments about which sculpture people believe will best represent the ideals of King, the MLK Sculpture Committee, in consultation with an expert panel of jurors, will convene on Oct. 28 to interview each artist and review their respective proposals, including proposed budgets and projected timelines for completion of the sculpture.
After interviewing the artists, the committee will recommend the artist that should be awarded the commission to President Ad Interim Peter T. Flawn, who in turn, will make the recommendation to the University of Texas System Board of Regents at the Nov. 13th regents’ meeting.
The MLK Sculpture Committee has been assisted throughout the selection process by a panel of expert jurors that includes David Deming, an acclaimed sculptor and dean of the College of Fine Arts at UT Austin; Luis Jimenez, a renowned sculptor and professor of art at the University of Houston; Ms. Harriet Kelley, an art collector and member of the UT Austin College of Fine Arts Advisory Council; and Dr. Alvia Wardlaw, associate professor of art history at Texas Southern University and a curator at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.
The Texas Commission On The Arts also has provided consultation to the committee on how to conduct the national competition, in the selection of the jurors and by facilitating the selection of the five finalists. Ricardo Hernandez, assistant director of programs and public partnerships, also will help the committee reach a consensus on which artist will be awarded the commission.
The MLK Sculpture project is being funded by a student fee $1 dollar per-year per-student for a four year period- that was approved in a 1995 student referendum voted on during the Student Government Association election.
The sculpture is projected to be completed by the fall ’98 semester.