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Next came the modeling, an arduous process. “I spent probably three to four weeks making six-inch maquettes — those little tiny scale models — with a variety of gestures and so on. The other thing I was doing at the same time was getting a feel for the language of sculpture in the Capitol, the specific types of gesture that are iterated over and over again there, and just its figurative sculpture in general.”

Grill’s commission-winning model depicts Ford, by design, as authoritative but approachable; confident in his abilities, but humble in his approach. He is dressed in a suit and vest, his right hand gripping a sheaf of files.

“The [selection] committee was very particular about pointing out that, in several of the reference photos, President Ford was carrying around files and that this was a signifier that he was always at work,” says Grill with a laugh. “That was not part of my original design, but the committee hinted rather forcefully that they would like that in my design. It actually ended up working really well with the pose I had originally chosen.”

Grill expects a mold of the completed statue to ship to the foundry he’s selected, Art Casting of Illinois, Inc. in late spring. If all goes according to plan, the completed work will arrive in Washington for installation this fall.

“Those works of art are going to be there much longer than I’m alive,” Grill says. “It’s nice to be a part of something that will outlive you.”

 

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Illumination home. Spring 2009 Table of Contents.