A group dedicated to building community in Rutland, Vermont, unveiled the latest addition to its downtown sculpture trail Wednesday, reflecting a key goal of its ongoing project: showcasing diversity and gender equity when it comes to representations of local history.
“I could not believe how few images were of women,” said Carol Driscoll of the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center in West Rutland.
Driscoll was referring to how, when traveling throughout the Northeast and beyond, she has noticed how statues and monuments often were built to remember men — whether war heros, major political figures, wealthy philanthropists and the like.
The community members behind the Rutland Sculpture Trail, which documents the region’s history, wondered, “Who may be left out of the story?”
“It’s unusual to see women depicted as leaders,” Driscoll observed. “And I think this is the time.”
Organizers, artists, and private funders are now honoring Julia Dorr with a sculpture carved from Vermont marble. Dorr was a famous poet, novelist, and travel writer who lived in Rutland in the 1800s and early 1900s, and who was considered ahead of her time.
She also founded the Rutland Free Library.
“I want to see those middle school kids walking by here, looking up at Julia, and saying, ‘That could be me — I could do that,’” said Mary Moran, a retired school superintendent who contributed key funding to the Dorr sculpture.
The growing sculpture trail has pieces commemorating other local women, too, including a figure from the Revolutionary War and an Olympic medalist.
“It is about time that women are celebrated,” said Rep. Mary Howard, D-Rutland. “We have a long way to go, but it’s so wonderful for young women to see that we can do these things.”
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People of color are also reflected on the sculpture trail, with more on the way. In May, NECN covered the dedication of a bust depicting the first Black man to serve as the president of a U.S. college — before the Civil War.
To be clear, accomplishments of white men are still celebrated on the trail, though not with that narrower focus past generations might’ve had.
“I think it helps everyone in the community, but also everyone who visits the community, to realize this has always been a diverse and inclusive community,” said Joan Gamble, a strategic change consultant who contributed to the creation of the tribute to Julia Dorr.
The Rutland Sculpture Trail said its goal to build community pride means reflecting the contributions of a wide range of community members.