A new art work is coming in June 2020 to break up the “boys’ club” that is the majority of Cincinnati sculptures.
The sculpture will be displayed just inside the entrance of Smale Park, located at 166 W. Mehring Way in Downtown, according to a release from Wright Communications. The sculpture is being commissioned by the Woman’s City Club, which established a Spencer Statue Fund at Fifth Third Bank.
“The City of Cincinnati has a number of statues within the city borders. Some are politicians, many are military leaders, some are educators – but not one is a woman,” said Alice Schneider, Woman’s City Club member and chair of the Marian Spencer Statue Committee. “We have found a woman we believe would be the perfect person to break this barrier – local civil rights icon Marian Spencer.”
The statue will not be Spencer’s only “first woman to…” accolade. Spencer has many claims to fame, but among her most noteworthy accomplishments are the battle she led in the 1950s to desegregate Coney Island’s swimming pools, becoming the first African American woman elected to Cincinnati City Council in 1983 and serving as the Cincinnati NAACP chapter’s first female president in 1981.
Tom Tsuchiya – best known for his bronze figures outside the Great American Ball Park – and Northern Kentucky University senior painting major Gina Erardi will be responsible for designing and sculpting the tribute.
The statue will represent a life-size image of Spencer, standing at 5 feet 3 inches.Two figures of children will stand next to her.
“I decided against a single figure,” Tsuchiya said. “That kind of statue is usually mounted high and it’s meant to be imposing, looking down on everyone. Marian wasn’t like that. She was a person of the people.”
A street and two buildings were already adorned with Spencer’s name before she passed. Marian Spencer Way at The Banks was named in March 2016; a University of Cincinnati residence hall was named Marian Spencer Hall in December 2017; and the Spencer Center for Gifted and Exceptional Students opened in 2018.
The Woman’s City Club has kicked off a fundraising campaign to build the statue, the release states. Donations will be accepted at 103 Howard Taft Road in Corryville or online at www.womanscityclub.org.
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