Architecture of Strength, new monument at corner of Main and Gervais Streets in Columbia, will celebrate the city’s legacy of remarkable women.
At a press conference at the northwest corner of Main and Gervais Streets on Wednesday, June 16, 2021, Columbia thought leaders and Mayor Steve Benjamin spoke at the official “unveiling” of Architecture of Strength, a brand new monument celebrating the historical accomplishments of women in Columbia, designed to inspire inclusion and honor remarkable women.
Architecture of Strength will be a permanent monument to celebrate and honor women in Columbia and is an initiative of Columbia City of Women. The position of the monument confronts the lack of women’s representation in the public sphere and speaks truth to power at the physical intersection of the major power in our community: commerce (Main Street) and government (Gervais Street), across from the State House. Architecture of Strength will inspire the community to learn more about and celebrate the historical contributions women have made to our city, to inspire a more hopeful and inclusive vision of our future.
“Women deserve to be seen and heard in this city,” said Ann Warner, executive director of WREN (Women’s Rights Empowerment Network), who spoke at the press conference. “This is a lasting monument to women from the past and present who pushed boundaries, stood up for others, and made Columbia a better place.”
Architecture of Strength, by Deedee Morrison, is made of 316 polished stainless steel pipes that are laser-cut and welded to create the sculpture. It is also illuminated for night-time viewing in its prominent location. The form begins with the foundation, a circular pillar of strength. The layering of the lives in meaning and the contributions of these women to Columbia, create the form. The sculpture is a form made up of many parts, the parts of the female that are invaluable in every community. Family, vision, courage, strength, integrity, honor, hope, resilience, intelligence, compassion, steadfastness, determination and drive hold our community together. The faceless, nameless nature of this art represents the idea that it takes all kinds of women, all shapes, all sizes, and beliefs, to build a community.
The monument’s front faces the South Carolina State House as a direct statement that though there are a wealth of monuments on the State House grounds, and many of them controversial, none of them celebrate women in any meaningful way.
“As one of the most traveled intersections in South Carolina’s capital city, this monument is a daily reminder of women’s strength, perseverance and power,” said Robin Waites, executive director of Historic Columbia, who also spoke at the press conference.
Historic Columbia, WREN, and Columbia City of Women steering committee would like to thank First Lady Rachel Hodges for her vision of Columbia City of Women, Central Carolina Community Foundation with support from the Knight Foundation and Beth Richardson for fundraising support. Additionally Dr. Mary Baskin-Waters and Mr. Samuel Waters, Jerry Davis in honor of Judy Davis, Sue Doran and Dr. Lilly and Mr. Bruce Filler invested in the creation of Architecture of Strength. One Columbia and the City of Columbia also provided support for this monument, as did Holder Properties and Hood Construction.
For more information about the press conference and unveiling, please contact Katie Alice Walker at [email protected]. For more information about Columbia City of Women, visit ColumbiaCityofWomen.com.