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
While bases in the nineteenth century are typically solid and monumental, our base of paired stone pillars lean into and balance on one another. Unlike the traditional solid base, the inclined pillars create a space above which Poe and his companion stand.
Poe’s base is fractured and ostensibly precarious, resonating with Poe’s biography, and pyramidal in profile, conveying monumentality consistent with his achievement. And unlike a traditional pedestal which provides a commemorative inscription on the exterior, Poe’s inscription is housed within and appears as a puzzle to which Poe points.
As architectural structures are often emblematic of bodily interiors in Poe’s narratives, so in the base of our sculpture the architectural structure assumes the character of the body’s interior. The rough texture of the outside of the pillars becomes a smooth, polished surface through the chamber’s four openings. The transition between outside and inside equates to the kind of transition from architecture into body that begins the “The Fall of the House of Usher”.
Rendering: Robert Olson and Associates