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 proposal comprises a pair of figures which together represent Poe’s personality and his writing. The theme of doubling, which continually reappears in his work (as twins, dichotomies, mirroring, the doubling of narrator and author and doppelgängers) seems to have arisen out of early childhood experiences of trauma and dislocation. The reality of Poe then is the energetic and productive but fractured and doubled person who was able to transform the raw materials of his life experiences into art.
The proposal addresses Poe’s doubled and fractured nature by presenting him with his back to a second, female figure who is the same size as Poe. The two figures face in opposite directions. The female figure is Poe’s context when viewing the sculpture from Poe’s side. The two figures are divided from one another by a space that opens up into a chasm in the base through which her shroud falls.