Over the past two years, the Columbia City of Women Initiative has worked to highlight the important role women have played in Colombia, both historically and today.
On Wednesday, the group launched a public artwork that symbolizes the impact of women in the capital.
Columbia City of Women – a collaborative effort between the South Carolina Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network and Historic Columbia – unveiled a 16-foot-tall sculpture called “The Architecture of Force” near the northwest corner of Main and Gervais streets, just outside the Outside Hall’s Chophouse and just across the street from SC State House. The stainless steel sculpture has been around for almost a year and was created by Greenville artist Deedee Morrison.
The City of Women initiative started in 2019 and has so far inducted 20 women into two separate classes. It promotes an interactive map of the city that details the contributions these women have made to Columbia in various locations. The winners include civil rights leader Modjeska Monteith Simkins, University of South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley and LGBTQ rights lawyer Harriet Hancock, among others.
The 2021 City of Women class will be announced later this year.
“Columbia City of Women is an initiative to put women back where they belong – on the Columbia map,” WREN CEO Ann Warner said on Wednesday. “We believe in the power to walk through a city that recognizes the achievements of women. Our goal is to tell their stories, celebrate their successes and seek to put their name in the Colombian landscape.
As part of this initiative, the towering new sculpture was unveiled near the State House. Information from City of Women indicates that the force architecture “is the next step in representing and celebrating the contributions of women and recognizing their monumental impact in the community.”
According to Historic Columbia executive director Robin Waites, Morrison created the sculpture from massive stainless steel pipes that she took apart and then reconfigured, stitching them together with liquid metal. Waites said the piece symbolized “the figure of a woman rising up, who becomes visible, and serves as a dramatic, shameless and powerful icon, both witness and challenger to the white male power structure that dominates the room. street (at the State House).
There are a multitude of monuments on the grounds of the State House, almost all of them honoring men. Some of these monuments, like that of former Governor Benjamin Tillman, have troubling links to racism.
Warner said the effort to place the new Women’s Town monument across from the State House was intentional.
“It’s a very important site in the heart of the city, and we wanted this project to have that kind of importance, because this is the level of importance that women deserve and have not had for the most part. of our history, ”Warner said. “It’s at the intersection of politics and business, where a lot of decisions are made. Frankly, we don’t have enough women directly involved in making these decisions.
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin was on hand for the sculpture’s unveiling on Wednesday morning and said he hoped “The Architecture of Force” would spark questions and curiosity about the important role women have played in the history of the capital.
“We need to have strong, solid, meaningful and uplifting conversations about the role of women in building this great country,” Benjamin said. “I think these conversations can be both restorative and restorative. “
One Columbia for Arts and Culture, the city-backed arts advocacy agency, helped organize the committee that planned and inaugurated the new sculpture project. Columbia executive director Lee Snelgrove said “The Architecture of the Force” is a striking piece of public art.
“This is essentially the biggest project we’ve done so far,” in terms of public art, Snelgrove said. “It was a successful collaboration that showed how all of these people can come together to create something monumental. It is a monument that sits right in a vital corner of the city.