Ann Hirsch and Robert Olson were named one of three finalist teams out of a pool of 265 applicants from 42 states and 13 countries in the Poe birthplace artwork RFP competition. Their proposal for a public artwork to commemorate Edgar Allan Poe's birthplace in Boston was comprised of two bronze figures, Poe and a mysterious female figure, atop four leaning granite pillars. The traditional commemorative form of the plinth is transformed into an ostensibly unstable configuration of leaning pillars, appropriate to Poe's revolutionary vision. The design combines traditional and contemporary forms and languages to convey the living legacy of Poe’s work.
Proposal for a Public Artwork dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe, A Collaboration with Robert Olson
Hirsch and Olson's proposal for the project commemorated Poe as an artist of his time and ours, and presented his achievement in a context in which both his personal and professional life, and his nineteenth century origin and his present force, can be understood.
Poe returned to Boston throughout his life, valuing it as the home it was for his mother Eliza.
The artwork commemorates Poe’s energy not only as a writer but as a performer, a role he sought in Boston throughout his professional life, and his profound impact, as the poet who enacted, in the sound of words, a triumph of beauty over thought at the boundaries of interior and exterior, sensation and intellect, life and death.
The proposal frames these crucial themes and their connections to Poe’s experiences with Boston, the city of his birth, by employing the primary materials of his narrative: body, architecture and sound as reflected here in our use of the figure, the base and text.