Sunday, April 10, 2011

FDR Hope Memorial Sculpture Design Concept Depicting President Franklin D Roosevelt as a Disabled Person Unveiled Last Night at Roosevelt Island's Gallery RIVAA

The FDR Hope Memorial initial design concept was presented for the first time to the public last night at Roosevelt Island's Gallery RIVAA. The design depicts President Franklin D. Roosevelt seated in his wheelchair at his desk greeting a young disabled girl wearing braces on her leg and is

based to an extent upon this photograph.

Image From The Roosevelt Doctor (more info on photo here)

The FDR Hope Memorial will be located in Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park just north of the Renwick Ruins up a small hill on the West (Manhattan) side

in this spot.

Image of Future Home of FDR Hope Memorial From Meredeth Bergmann

Below is a press release from the FDR Hope Memorial Committee:

Artist Meredith Bergmann Selected as Sculptor and Site Artist;
Initial design to be unveiled April 9

A sculpture of President Franklin D. Roosevelt seated in a wheelchair, interacting with a disabled child, is planned for Roosevelt Island in New York City. The FDR Hope Memorial will be located at Southpoint Park, just south of the hospital where survivors of polio, the disease that disabled Roosevelt, benefited from the pioneering use of ventilators that freed them from the constraints of “iron lungs.”

The goal of the FDR Hope Memorial Committee (FDRHM), a sub-committee of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association, is to celebrate President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the inspiration for all who strive to overcome challenges. According to the memorial’s mission statement, “Roosevelt Island was so named to reflect a commitment to an integrated community where the disabled move freely, live independently and develop to their fullest potential. The FDR Hope Memorial will educate future generations about FDR and about Roosevelt Island, a vital community of ‘enabled’ residents.”

Jim Bates, President of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association, said the memorial will be “a place of comfort, hope, understanding and inspiration.”

Dr. Jack Resnick, internist on Roosevelt Island, notes that “Roosevelt spent much of his adult life in a wheelchair. The polio virus, which infected him in 1921 at the age of 39, left him with almost no use of his legs. Twelve years later, following a term as Governor of New York, he became President of the United States and went on to save the country from economic calamity, and the world from Hitler.”

Following a search, New York–based artist Meredith Bergmann was selected to design the FDR Hope Memorial. Bergmann’s public works, such as Marian Anderson and the Boston Women's Memorial, address challenging topics with social concerns. The committee believes her public art experience, her substantial research and thoughtful approach, and her potential to develop and communicate the mission of the FDR Hope Memorial will help to bring about a work of art that will inspire generations.

Bergmann notes that the nearby Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, designed in 1974 by architect Louis Kahn, and now under construction just to the south of the memorial’s future site, will include a portrait head of FDR. “Four Freedoms Park will be both beautiful and contemplative, but because of its idiom and the era of its design it will not depict the human body, and the human body is an important part of our subject. Until the 20th century, sculptors routinely turned to the human body when they wanted to evoke inspiration. Here in the Hope Memorial we are not only allowed to use the human body to inspire, we are joyfully required to do so.

“For me, an artist who believes in the power of figurative sculpture to represent people as well as abstractions, it is inspiring to sculpt a leader who was so inspiring. FDR never wanted his disability to have a place in his presidency, but he led our nation into some of the most important reforms ever enacted, reforms which allowed us as a community to benefit from what the vulnerable members of our community have to offer.”

Bergmann’s presentation of her concept for realizing FDRHM's mission in three dimensions was received by the committee with great enthusiasm. The design will be presented publicly for the first time on Saturday, April 9, 6 PM to 7 PM at Gallery RIVAA, 529 Main Street, on Roosevelt Island.

Initial funding for the FDR Hope Memorial comes from a generous grant from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, a special project of the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.

For more information or to make a donation, visit fdrhopememorial.
Here are some scenes from last night's FDR Hope Memorial initial design concept unveiling.

The design waiting to be unveiled:

welcoming and introductory remarks by Marc Diamond of the FDR Hope Memorial Committee:

Assembly Member Micah Kellner explaining that the FDR Hope Memorial is important to him both because of his admiration for President Roosevelt and the recognition this Memorial will give to disabled people, noting that he himself has Cerebral Palsy:

Roosevelt Island Disabled Association (RIDA) President and FDR Hope Memorial Chair Jim Bates spoke of how he thought just as the election of America's first African-American President, Barack Obama, inspired African-American children to believe that they could accomplish great things, so could the FDR Memorial inspire children with disabilities that they too could accomplish great things as well.

Here's the sculptor Meredith Bergmann just before the unveiling.

Many more pictures from the FDR Hope Memorial initial design concept are here.

Here's how the Memorial to President Franklin D. Roosevelt depicting him as a disabled person began.

UPDATE 6 PM - ... With a protest by RIDA against this.

Image of Louis Kahn/FDR Memorial  at Southern End of Southpoint Park From Untapped New York

UPDATE 7:15 PM - From the FDR Hope Memorial Committee. This says it all.

You Tube Video of FDR Hope Memorial


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