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
Poe and a shrouded female figure, who represents the women in his life and the female characters in his writing are raised above a stone base allowing them to be seen in their entirety from a distance while providing a context in which to reveal the complexity of Poe’s artistry through the experience of the artwork.
The base embodies the tradition of commemoration and is formed of pairs of pillars that lean precariously against one another. Within the pillars is contained a space, evocative of funerary monuments, which holds a portion of the shroud descending from above and presenting a puzzle to which Poe points and in which his words as a critic are hidden.