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.
Portrait Studies, Proposal for a Public Artwork dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe, A Collaboration with Robert Olson
Poe’s struggle between sensation and abstraction, a conundrum that governed both his life and his literary production, is our artwork’s dominant theme. The split of thinker and feeler, man and child, son and mother, subject and object, real and imaginary, often felt to be irreconcilable, drove his work and his interest in artistic unity.
Poe’s figure is mirrored by the ambiguous shrouded figure which reappears throughout his fiction and which seemed to haunt his life. This apparition is a symbol of the triumph of sensation over thought which was his declaration of independence from the literary establishment.