Just in time for Women’s History Month, the Virginia Women’s Monument has announced three more sculptures that will go into production and be sculpted into bronze for the monument on the grounds of the Virginia Capitol.
The monuments will honor Laura Copenhaver, a textile entrepreneur from Southwest Virginia; Mary Draper Ingles, a frontierswoman who was kidnapped by Shawnee Indians and eventually escaped; and Elizabeth Keckly, a talented seamstress who bought her freedom and became the dressmaker for Mary Todd Lincoln.
“The accomplishments and contributions of Virginia women have not been fully reflected in our textbooks and history,” said Sandra Treadway, a member of the Women’s Monument Commission and librarian of Virginia. “We see the lack of recognition of women on the landscape. If you look at monuments here and elsewhere, it’s military figures, statesmen and presidents, but not many women.
“That can leave the impression that women were not as important. This monument is to say, ‘No, women’s contributions over four centuries in Virginia have been varied and important. Virginia would not be the place it is without women having done what they have over the years,’” Treadway said.
The base of the monument, which features a plaza and the names of 230 prominent Virginia women etched on glass, was installed late last year on the Capitol grounds.
The finished monument will include bronze statues of 12 women from Virginia.
The first four statues — of Cockacoeske, chief of the Pamunkeys; Anne Burras Laydon, a settler from Jamestown; Virginia Randolph, an education pioneer; and Adèle Clark, a Richmond suffragist — were commissioned last year.
Each statue requires a financial investment of $200,000 that is mostly privately funded.
The statues will be cast in bronze and fabricated at StudioEIS in Brooklyn, N.Y. The studio is run by two designers, Ivan Schwartz and Elliot Schwartz, and a team of sculptors. They did the forensic George Washington sculptures for George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate and gardens, the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt sculptures in Hyde Park, N.Y., and the Thomas Jefferson sculpture at the Virginia Capitol.
The full cost of the project, for the plaza, glass wall and sculptures, is $3.8 million. The Women’s Monument Commission has been working on the project since 2011.
The project has been mostly privately funded by individuals, corporations and philanthropic organizations. Some funding came from the state.
A formal dedication of the Virginia Women’s Monument is scheduled for Oct. 14, with most of the bronze statues expected to be installed by that time.
The remaining five statues — of Martha Washington, Clementina Rind, Sally L. Tompkins, Maggie L. Walker and Sarah G. Jones — are partially funded and will be commissioned as contributions become available.
“There is no other state in the country that recognizes women in this way,” Treadway said. “The monument covers over 400 years of Virginia history. We chose women from different backgrounds, time periods and fields of endeavor to get across how long women have worked and changed the course of our history.”