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
Bronze sculpture and stone architecture interpenetrate. The membrane-like shroud of the female figure descends through the upper opening of the chasm into the visceral chamber beneath where words are formed. The shroud, like the chamber itself, redefines the traditional hierarchical configuration of sculpture on base so that the two become equal components of the composition.
Text is the shroud, and is here expressed not only as the garment that reveals and conceals Poe’s companion but is literally the words of Poe’s artistic production and the source of the puzzle which Poe presents to his audience by pointing to the interior of the base. The shroud, with its puzzle, is effectively the boundary between life and death which animates all of Poe’s work. The puzzle also reflects Poe’s passion for cryptography and his stories where secrets are submerged or buried only to be unearthed again.