Altered Martin Luther King memorial statue
The 28-foot statue planned for Martin Luther King Jr national memorial is getting a bit of a makeover. The US Commission of Fine Arts has agreed to change the face of the statue as before they said he looked 'too controntational'.
King will now have a much less furrowed brow, a softer mouth and more details on the hands.
The new images also showed more of the rough-hewn granite as the figure of the civil rights leader emerges, his arms crossed, from a "Stone of Hope," is the centerpiece of the proposed memorial.
At the same time, Jackson challenged critics who have said that King would not have struck such a pose. He then presented a photograph of King standing, arms crossed, much like the statue.
Members of the commission praised the latest design.
"The direction is a very positive one," said Earl A. Powell III, chairman of the federal arts panel, whose approval is required before the memorial can be built on the National Mall.
The project will still need many more reviews by the commission as it progresses, and Jackson was asked to come back with a plaster model. But the interim green light was crucial to keep the work on course.
It came on a day when the organizer, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, was taking in $3.3 million at a fund-raising dinner at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta. That brings the total raised to nearly $95 million, foundation officials said.
The target has been $100 million, although foundation president and CEO Harry E. Johnson Sr. said Thursday that the target would be moving up.
The King statue has prompted a national debate over its monumental style and the fact that it is being made in China by tsculptor Lei Yixin. In a letter last April, the Fine Arts Commission said it resembled the political statuary that has been toppled in totalitarian states.
An Atlanta-based group, "KingIsOurs," charged that King's legacy had been betrayed because the memorial was being "out-sourced" to a country that abuses human rights.
At the hearing, Jackson told the commission that Lei had been selected as the sculptor almost by happenstance. A group had gone to China in search of light brown granite for the memorial and visited the artist's studio, where they were "rendered speechless" by his model for the King statue, Jackson said.
"His interpretation spoke to us," he said.
Jackson showed photos of renderings byother artists, but he said Lei's was the one that captivated the foundation and members of the King family.
After the hearing, foundation president Johnson gleefully announced "We're moving forward," He brushed off the recent controversy over the statue as "part of the process" for national memorials.