FMD: Introduction to the Fannie Mae Duncan Sculpture

“Fannie Mae Who?” you may ask? 
Last year I would have asked the same question…

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In August 2017 I was exhibiting at the Loveland Sculpture in the Park Show when four women stepped into my booth and began whispering to each other. I caught the words ‘patina’ and ‘facial structure’ as they discretely pointed to my works and I assumed that they were fellow artists preparing to ask me questions about my processes in creating sculpture. Instead they asked me questions about women, art, politics, race….Challenging questions that had us instantly deep in conversation; sharing similar thoughts and views about how women are often overlooked in art and history and how they were setting out to change that fact. I didn’t know it yet, but they weren’t talking idly. They meant business and I was about to find out just how fiercely determined they were. They were the principal leaders of the Fannie Mae Duncan Statue Steering Committee and they came with a mission.

Shortly after the show Kay Esmiol, Chairman of the Committee contacted me and asked if I would be interested in sculpting a life-size bronze sculpture of Fannie Mae (Bragg) Duncan, an African American entrepreneur and philanthropist from Colorado Springs. She began to share Fannie Mae’s story with me and I was hooked immediately.

You see, I love people. I find them fascinating. Each person is a story, complete with full, rich and compelling chapters. We can learn so much from other people: how they responded to the challenges that life threw their way, how they dealt with success or failure,  how they achieved their goals, how they helped others.

Kay sent me her book, Everybody Welcome: A Memoir of Fannie Mae Duncan and the Cotton Club. It was a riveting read, the story of a woman, granddaughter of slaves, daughter of share croppers, who came from Oklahoma to Colorado Springs and built herself an empire that included the Cotton Club and moved a mansion through town. It’s also the story of Colorado Springs and its unique history of an integrated school system at a time of deep segregation, and of Camp Carson and the role that the military has played in Colorado Springs. Mrs. Duncan was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 2012.

Certainly I won’t do the life story of Fannie Mae Duncan justice with a synopsis on my blog so I invite you to learn more by reading her biography and perusing some of the informational links down below. You can also be a part of history and part of the process by making a donation to help bring this tribute to an African American business woman to Colorado Springs. Donations may be mailed to the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum at 215 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, CO 80903. All contributions should be labeled “Everybody Welcome Sculpture.” For more information please call the museum at #719-385-5990.

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I am thrilled and honored to have been chosen by the Steering Committee to be the sculptor that brings Fannie Mae Duncan back to the limelight and ready to welcome visitors to the Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts in the form of a life-size bronze sculpture.

On June 20th, 2018 I sign the contract and begin the journey of bringing the story of Fannie Mae Duncan into bronze, to share with the community and I hope that you will join me by following along in the creative processes through my FMD Blog postings where I will show you every step of the process from design, sculpting, enlarging, moldmaking, casting and installing the bronze sculpture of Fannie Mae Duncan titled “Everybody Welcome”.

Many thanks to the Colorado Springs Pioneers History Museum, City of Colorado Springs, County of El Paso, the Fannie Mae Duncan Statue Steering Committee and all the donors, for making this important sculpture happen.

Sculpture and all images. Unauthorized use prohibited © Lori Kiplinger Pandy 2000-2018
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