Shrouded to protect their delicate steel skin from further deterioration, they are cocooned and ready for a renaissance that can only be achieved with funding for restoration.
One ‘sister’ has undergone a restorative cure at the White River Junction studio of metal artisan Jeff Sass. She will be reunited with the group shortly, yet her return is contingent upon obtaining funding for the restoration of the next sister.
The five steel sculptures were uprooted from their prominent and rightful site at UVM in 2004. To avoid further deterioration, they were stored at the FLYNNDOG, an alternative art exposition space, in Burlington’s south end to wait for funding for restoration. Public awareness of their plight was highest when they first disappeared from public eye, but the intervening years resulted in the inevitable, a collective memory loss of their presence on the campus.
In retrospect, this was very good and very bad. FLYNNDOG director, Bren Alvarez, recalls:
Their first appearance at FLYNNDOG coincided coincidentally with Me, Myself, & I, a group exhibit of self-portraits. While they were definitively not self-portraits, their presence appeared to be remarkably consistent with the vision of the exhibition. They were a beloved and welcomed presence in the art space when the promise of finding benefactors to support a restoration effort was high. After the first wave of public indignation over the unannounced change of venue passed and enthusiasm for fundraising waned, the plight of the Lamentation group receded from our collective memory.
Over time, the sculptures were like cumbersome props for a long forgotten play. They were continually displaced and rearranged to accommodate the changing exhibitions at FLYNNDOG and the new Outer Space Café. This tumultuous lifestyle in a regrettably incompatible space undermined the beauty and site specificity of this significant work of art. This dissonance served to highlight an incontrovertible truth; that restoration of the Group to the original location was essential. In an effort to preserve their dignity in the interim, the sculptures were relocated to a storage area where four of the five sisters have languished in a sort of solitary confinement. Thanks to admirable efforts by UVM, the fifth was released shortly thereafter to Jeff Sass for restoration.
The remaining four sculptures recently elected not to await restoration in obscurity. They have returned to the UVM campus where their presence can be appreciated, albeit, in their current state of deterioration. Reclaiming their prominent location renews the hope that their plight will be recognized and that restoration efforts will be hastened.
Lamentations Project in the News:
Artists’ April Fools Action,
New statues secretly installed at UVM
Burlington Free Press