A small but lovely show opened at 21C Museum Hotel this week, featuring work by members of Enid, a group of Louisville-area female artists who work in sculpture and 3-D. Enid is named for Enid Yandell, born 150 years ago in Louisville, who studied with Rodin and whose sculptures were highly renowned. One of her huge statues, of Athena, 25 feet tall, made for the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exhibition in Nashville, was the largest statue ever made by a woman (what a back-handed accolade).
|Enid Yandell and Pallas Athena (in pieces)|
As a fan of Enid, my favorite statue is one that was never made. In 1894 the Kentucky Woman's Confederate Monument Association held a big design competition to choose the sculptor of a monument in Louisville. Enid won the contest, but it was just too forward for a woman to be given such a prestigious commission, and the members of the association overruled their selection committee and let a local gravestone company build the statue instead. In a huge slap in the face to Enid, the monument was topped by a statue of a generic soldier, sculpted by a German artist -- anybody with money could order a cast for their cemetery or street corner.
But in the long run, it was probably better for Enid's reputation to not have gotten the commission. Louisville's Confederate monument was one of hundreds built around the beginning of the last century in a concerted effort to romanticize the "Lost Cause" of the Civil War and reinforce Jim Crow laws and customs in the U.S. South. It coincided with the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in many states, even outside the South. As time passed, many cities decided that their Confederate monuments were nothing to be proud of; in 2016 the Louisville monument was taken down (not without much outrage from those who still refuse to admit that the Confederacy lost the war).
Well, here I've gone on and on about Enid and not even touched on the show. I'll do that in another post!