Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Lei Yixin at work carving MLK and the “Stone of Hope”…
Forty-six years after he gave his famous “I Have a Dream Speech” in Washington on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. is set to finally be immortalized with his own colossal sculpture, titled “The Stone of Hope” in the nation’s capitol. The three-piece monument depicts the civil rights leader stading, arms crossed, before a large and imposing mountain representing the leader’s hard-fought struggle. With the historic inauguration of Barack Obama coming a day after what would have been King’s 80th birthday today, the amount needed to construct the memorial has almost been reached. So far, a reported $100 million of the project’s estimated $120 million construction cost has been raised through donations to the privately financed Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation. Scheduled for completion by year’s end, The MLK memorial will be built on a four-acre corner of the National Mall, on the banks of the Potomac River between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. The image of King is being realized by Chinese master sculptor LEI YIXIN who won a design competition to create the artwork. The decision has not come without controversy, however. Allowing a Chinese artist to helm the project was criticized as being out of step with King’s teachings given that country’s human rights abuses, while the image of King proposed by Yixin itself, drew the ire of The U.S. Commission on Fine Arts earlier this year. According to the group, the image of the civil rights leader shown standing with his arms crossed was too “confrontational,” and the general style of the planned 28-foot granite statue “recalls a genre of political sculpture that has recently been pulled down in other countries.” Luckily, both sides have since reconciled and King’s nephew Isaac Newton Farris Jr., president and chief executive officer of the King Center in Atlanta and nephew of the civil rights leader, has declared that the design correctly depicts his legacy: “My uncle was a strong and confrontational figure, his confrontation helped us to complete what the original founders intended when this country was formed, by confronting our problems with race in this nation. For them to say the statue looks too confrontational and too strong is the opposite of what his legacy was about.” HAVE A LOOK:



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