Encased flameworked glass, engraving, marble
36 by 20 inches
I designed and created the large-scale sculpture, “The Outstretched Hand of Liberty,” in 1989. The artistic concept was to use flameworked glass, crystal encasement and engraving to depict a universal and timeless story that most American families can identify with – the idea of coming to America. I designed this work so that each of the eight plaques is a glass sculpture, but unified into a single work by the theme – the pursuit of liberty in America. The use of diverse materials – marble and glass – in the design suggests diversity as well as contrast – the strength of marble versus the fragility of glass. The marble bases graduate in height like pages of a storybook to portray the beginning, middle and end of the story – our national story of arriving in America.
The countless stories my Grandmother Josephina told me as a child about her own family’s arrival in America from Italy inspired the scenes of the “The Outstretched Hand.” Josephina left Italy in 1921 carrying my father, Delmo, who was 8 months old at the time, on her lap. The ship carrying them from Italy docked at Ellis Island, and Josephina experienced the struggles shared by most immigrants arriving in America during the Great Depression. My grandmother’s stories impressed upon me how privileged we Americans are to live in this country. By her courageous example, she taught us to give back to others through hard work, and to help and share in what we have been given.
Although glass is the primary medium used to create this work, several sets of skilled hands helped me create the finished work. My father, Delmo, Max Erlacher the engraver, Edward Poore the glass cutter, and the Vermont Marble Company all helped me realize my artistic vision. I designed all the engravings and flameworks and sculpted the hot glass with my father. The flameworked designs also relate to the engravings in telling the story. I considered it important to have each flameworked element add meaning that enforced the engravings. Each of the 8 glass plaques are 4 inches in diameter. The piece, including the marble base, is 36 by 20 inches. I dedicate this work to my grandmother and celebrate her life with her favorite holiday toast; ‘Peace, Good Health, and God Bless America.”