50th Reunion Gift…Robert Frost Sculpture
In 1997 Alan Schechter viewed a life-size bronze sculpture of Robert Frost
by George Lundeen. His immediate reaction was that a Frost sculpture would
enhance the Amherst campus. The experience reminded Alan of the very special
times that we had together with Robert Frost during our College days.
He was also inspired by the thought
that such a sculpture could be used to symbolize the importance of professors
in shaping the lives of Amherst students. This led him to propose to a
group of our Classmates that the Class purchase the Lundeen sculpture
for presentation to the College as part of our 50th Reunion gift. The
response was overwhelmingly positive.
Alan next discussed the concept
with President Gerety and others in the Administration. After some consideration,
the College decided that the addition of a Frost sculpture would be most
appropriate. However, it favored the commissioning of a unique piece for
a specific location on campus, rather than the Lundeen sculpture, which
was one of about ten copies that had been made.
Tom then named a committee from
various constituencies to move forward on the development of the concept
and the selection of an appropriate sculptor.
In 1999 the College
selected the noted sculptor, Penelope Jencks, to create the Frost sculpture
that will be a part of the 50th Reunion gift of the Class of 1957. Ms.
Jencks has created numerous public works, the most notable of which is
probably the eight-foot bronze and granite sculpture of Eleanor Roosevelt
that stands in Riverside Park in New York City.
following is quoted from the Winter 2002 issue of Amherst. “For
the Frost piece, due to be completed before ‘57’s Reunion,
the sculptor envisions ‘a casual pose, half seated half standing
against a pile of rocks…. In his hand he would be holding a book.
This would all be carved from one piece of granite: rocks, figure and
book.’ The eight-foot figure will be placed on the ground without
a pedestal and will face across the Main Quadrangle toward the Robert
Following Homecoming 2000 attending
Classmates met to endorse the plan and its role as our special 50th Reunion
gift. In a letter to Tom Gerety we indicated that our support of the project
was based both on “…the special role Robert Frost played
in our lives on campus…” and our desire “…to
contribute to the preservation of the memory of those moments and to express
our appreciation of and to honor all of the members of the Amherst faculty
who contributed so much to the enrichment of our lives.”
In July 2002 Alan, Tom Gerety and
Jill Meredith visited Ms. Jencks at her studio in Newton, MA. There they
viewed the first clay maquette of the sculpture. They were very excited
with the initial work and Ms. Jencks was authorized to proceed to the
next stage, which is the production of a larger version of the first model.
The overall cost of the project
is estimated to be $250,000. As the project nears completion, we will
seek contributions to help fund this gift to Amherst. Any remaining balance
will come from College funds and the generous support of one of our classmates.
As we get closer to our 50th Reunion,
Alan will launch a contest among Classmates to come up with the most appropriate
wording for the sculpture’s commemorative plaque.
Stay tuned; you will not want to
miss this opportunity.
Gift Chair, Alan Schechter
President, Bill Donohue
Piazza Stazione 12
55045 Pietrasanta (LU)
Tom, Jill & Alan,
have finally gotten the sculpture to the point where I feel satisfied enough
to have it cast into plaster. I am sending you some photos so that you can
see where we are. As I mentioned, the head & hands will need to be “finished” in
the full size, so I have decided to work on them in my own studio (as opposed
to the enlarging studio, which from time to time resembles Grand Central Station
at rush hour!) when I return in September.
you can see from the photos, [to
view photos, click here] the head has been roughed
in, but there are still little wooden toothpicks in certain strategic
spots, so that I will be able to know where I am, when it is enlarged.
Some of these correspond to measurements I took from the Walker Hancock
sculpture. Some are merely for purposes of clarification such as the
one in the center of the mouth, which helps me to be aware of the center
of the head, so it does not get lopsided. Naturally they will all be
gone & the head will be much more resolved & simplified when
it is finished.
sculpture will be enlarged 1.6 times, so that it will be about 9 feet
high. I plan to add 2 inches to the bottom, as I am not satisfied with
the scale of the rock that is under his foot. It seems a little squished
to me. It is hard to get a real sense of the whole piece, as the pictures
were taken from much too close, due to the size of the room it is in.
So it is kind of distorted and the proportions are a bit strange.
am really sorry that you are unable to get here at this point to see
it for yourselves, as a sculpture is definitely worth a thousand pictures!
But everyone here who has seen it is extremely enthusiastic, and one
woman (American, Frost enthusiast) was quite overcome. All of which makes
me happy and feel that you would have liked it, too. Tomorrow I will
scan the photos, at the enlargement studio, and send them on to you.
Then I will send a copy of this letter with the original photos to each
one of you so you can have them in better quality.
is warm & beautiful & sunny & full of flowers...But I hope
to actually get some vacation time here, while they are casting the piece.
After it is in plaster, I will touch up things that need it and then
it will go to the stone yard.
all is well with you & I will be coming to Amherst sometime this
summer to go over the site with Carol Johnson. Hope to see you all then.
in Italy visit Frost Statue
All about the Frost statue, the trip to Italy to review its progress, how you
might participate and an array of mini-reunion opportunities in the coming months.
Class of 1957 mini-reunioners who went to Italy this past May (Cris and
Bill Donohue, Ken and Sue Kermes, Alan and Alison Schechter, Peter
and Ellen Siebert, Carl and Joni Grey, George Hacker, Michael Wray
and Julie and I) had an extraordinary adventure of sight-seeing,
learning, laughing, wine-drinking and occasional sleeping. My first
and most enduring impression is we were a terrific group of bright,
curious, knowledgeable, interesting and funny people. In that way,
a good representation of the full class. The privilege
of being with such people is the best reason to return for the reunion
in May, 2007.
The Schechters planned an amazing itinerary. The high point was the day in Pietrasanta
where we met Penelope Jencks, the sculptor who is creating the Frost statue our
class will present to the college. (The ostensible reason for the trip was to
see the work on the Frost statue in progress, not the wine and pasta).
is the sculpture capital of Italy. Penelope has a small, well-lit
studio there with 100's of photographs of Frost mounted on boards, a model of
the finished statue dotted with holes and her rendering of the final head to
scale. She took us through the entire process, beginning her first rendering
of the piece, then doubling it (the reason for the holes - distances to be measured
with calipers and then recreated 100% larger, still ½ the size of the
the enlargement, Penelope completed a plaster version of just Frost's head
-- to scale. Then she invited three different studios to compete
for the final carving assignment by doing a rendering of the head -- also
to scale. We saw all three versions (which though based on the same model,
were quite different) and spent considerable time with Keara McMartin,
an American artist and Director of Sem Studio which won the competition.
final statue is the result of a unique collaborative relationship between
the artist, who does the original concept and rendering, and the artisan,
who does the actual carving of the granite (which is being dug at this
moment in Zimbabwe). Following Penelope's model, an artisan at
Sem Studio does a rough-hewn rendering of the work. Late next winter,
Penelope will return and work closely with that artisan to finish
the sculpture. We saw this close relationship with other artist
and artisan pairs at work at the Sem Studio. I suspect this
is the defining moment -- when their combined creative energies come together
on the final piece. That will be going on next spring.
and Keara are interesting, involved, committed artists. We
are lucky they are in the process and grateful to the college, administration(s),
Trustees and 1957 alumni who brought us together with them.
sculpture is an amazing and unique project on a scale that I don't believe
any other reuning class has ever undertaken. It will be dedicated at the
meeting of the Society of the Alumni on Saturday of our 50th Reunion, May
31 -June 3, 2007. Penelope Jencks will be there to join us. You
be there, too.
This statue honors Robert Frost in his role as teacher; he was on the faculty
of Amherst on and off for decades and lectured and visited English classes the
spring of our senior year. Through him, the statue also honors the stimulating
and challenging Amherst College faculty who all encouraged us to grow, to experiment,
to develop knowledge and interests, to take risks, and to use the skills we learned
throughout our lives.