Willow Pond Knoll Sculpture

December 1, 2011

Is it a flame, a sail, a lily or a leaf?  Over the past 30 years, many interpretations of the sculpture on Willow Pond Knoll have been suggested.The large iron sculpture,standing nineteen feet tall and weighing over nine tons, has become one of Mount Auburn’s iconic images, a landmark for providing directions and an uplifting work of art to behold. 

The project of developing the Knoll overlooking Willow Pond was initiated by Cemetery Trustees in 1979 and called for a large sculpture as a focal point.  The young and talented artist, Richard Duca, won the design competition, and on December 12, 1980, the untitled sculpture was set on its granite base overlooking Willow Pond.  On June 3, 1981 the new Willow Pond Knoll sculpture was dedicated before a crowd of 300 guests, friends and employees.

Although the Willow Pond Knoll Sculpture was cast in malleable iron, the initial designs were created in Styrofoam. Working in Styrofoam to create the initial pattern, Richard Duca designed the full-scale model in foam and cast it using the “foam vaporization process.” Duca’s final Styrofoam design was packed in specially prepared sand, and liquid metal was poured into the mold causing the Styrofoam to evaporate, creating a “one of a kind” sculpture.

In the fall of 2004, Fine Arts Conservator Barbara Mangum was hired to conserve the sculpture and remove some graffiti. The sculpture’s original coating had worn very thin in places and areas of the surface were unprotected, leading to imperfections known as pitting. The overall surface of the iron also showed some corrosion.  The sculptor Richard Duca was consulted and worked with the conservator and Mount Auburn’s Chief of Conservation David Gallagher on the project. After conservation work was completed, Duca commented “It looks better than it ever did.”

View  photos of the Willow Pond Knoll Sculpture by Richard Duca over the last thirty years.

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