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
The design combines traditional and contemporary forms and languages to convey the living legacy of Poe’s work. Its goal is to evoke a reader’s experience of Poe's work as well as reflect Poe’s love of puzzles and occult symbolism. The proposal features an interactive puzzle with a web of letters in bronze lit from within inside a base of pillars that contains a space evocative of funerary monuments. The space holds a portion of the shroud descending from above and presenting the puzzle to which Poe points and in which his words as a critic are hidden.
The memorial, in its unique design of figure and base and its placement in the Square, engenders an active engagement with the viewer that takes Poe from a duality with his female counterpart into a duality with the viewer, dramatizing Poe's importance today.