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Statue of Liberty: Where is the Love?

La Statue de la Liberté, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris (Photo by Theadora Brack)

By Theadora Brack

Let’s once again doff our “bachi” to my favorite Franco-American collaboration, the gigantesque statue of Lady Liberty on Bedloe’s Island in the New York harbor. Still looking fierce in her spiky nimbus (that’s right, mythically speaking, it’s not a crown) and matching floor length chiton in all its copper green tonalities.

This week, I’d also like to share four copies of my new favorite book about our iconic idol: Her Right Foot. Created by writer Dave Eggers and artist Shawn Harris in 2017, this illustrated Junior Library Guild selection revels in the history of the 151-foot-tall international shining star, from her four-foot nose down to her fast-grooving toes.

Keep the torch moving: Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris, 2017 (Photo by Theadora Brack) I thank my friend Emily for introducing me to the award-winning book!

Keep the torch moving: Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris, 2017 (Photo by Theadora Brack) I thank my friend Emily for introducing me to the award-winning book!

What?

That’s right. According to Eggers and Harris, she’s depicted in mid-stride. But why is she on the go? And where is she headed? Could it be a vintage record shop in the West Village? Trenton, New Jersey? The pair has a theory that will spur on activists worldwide, young and old. Witty and informative, the positive message embedded in the answer is also contagious.

“If the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of freedom, if the Statue of Liberty has welcomed millions of immigrants to the United States,” they ask, “then how can she stand still? Liberty and freedom from oppression are not things you get or grant by standing around like some kind of statue. No! These are things that require action. Courage. An unwillingness to rest.”

Interested?

If so, let me know. I’ll pass on the four books ’round the 4th of July. Purchased over the weekend, I’d love for you to read and re-read the book, and then pass it on to a neighbor, friend or family member. Keep the torch burning and moving.

Because, as Egger also wrote, “After all, the Statue of Liberty is an immigrant too. And this is why she’s striding. In welcoming the poor, the tired, the struggling to breathe free. She is not content to wait. She must meet them in the sea.”

I completely agree. To love is to act. Now, for a few factoids about her:

La Statue de la Liberté, Gaget, and Gauthier Co., Paris, 1882 (Bartholdi is on the right without hat)

La Statue de la Liberté, Gaget, and Gauthier Co., Paris, 1882 (Bartholdi is on the right without hat)

Dream Team

Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi was the artist, while Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and Alexandre Gustave Eiffel were the structural engineers of the Union Franco-Americaine Statue of Liberty project.

Monumental statuary has long been financed by public subscriptions (much like today’s Kickstarter funding schemes). The Statue of Liberty was no exception. Fully embracing crowdsourcing, Bartholdi pumped up the publicity volume with some P.T. Barnum-worthy teasers: In 1876, her arm and torch shined at the Centennial in Philadelphia, while her head and nimbus made a photogenic cameo at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1878.

Souvenir de Paris, Compact mirror, 1940s (Theadora Brack’s collection)

Souvenir de Paris, Compact mirror, 1940s (Theadora Brack’s collection)

A star is born

From the get-go, Bartholdi was involved in every aspect and phase of the project. Cutting a dashing figure with his short beard and pencil-thin mustache, Bartholdi not only ignited but also maintained a global buzz. There was even a “Bartholdi Fan Club.” But he also had timing on his side. During 1800s, colossal monuments came back into vogue as a popular way of sharing collective ideas and values, hand-in-hand with the engineering know-how spawned by the Industrial Revolution.

La Statue de la Liberté, Pont de Grenelle, Paris, September 1, 1944 (Image: Theadora Brack’s archives)

La Statue de la Liberté, Pont de Grenelle, Paris, September 1, 1944 (Image: Theadora Brack’s archives)

Fast forward

The French paid for the construction of the statue, while the U.S. footed the bill for her pedestal (with a big push from Joseph Pulitzer—all donors got their name listed in his World newspaper, no matter how small their gifts).

Pulitzer also pumped up the volume when he wrote: “We must raise the money! The World is the people’s paper, and now it appeals to the people to come forward and raise the money. Let us not wait for the millionaires to give us this money. It is not a gift from the millionaires of France to the millionaires of America, but a gift of the whole people of France to the whole people of America.”

Statue of Liberty, Parade, Hawaii, September 1945 (Image: Theadora Brack’s archives)

Statue of Liberty, Parade, Hawaii, September 1945 (Image: Theadora Brack’s archives)

Keeping it simple

Here’s how Bartholdi described his vision: “I have a horror of all frippery in detail in sculpture. The forms and effects of that art should be broad, massive and simple.”

Weighing in at an impressive 450,000 pounds, her height (from heel to head) is 111 feet, one inch, her waist is thirty-five feet, the length of her right arm is forty-two feet, the length of her hand is sixteen and a half feet, her fingernails are thirteen inches, her head from chin to cranium is just over seventeen feet, while her mouth is three feet wide.

Inside the Statue of Liberty’s nimbus, New York, 1940s (Postcard: Theadora Brack’s archives)

Inside the Statue of Liberty’s nimbus, New York, 1940s (Postcard: Theadora Brack’s archives)

To love is to act

I’ll close with a description I found in the June 1940 issue of Life magazine, which featured the Statue of Liberty on the cover, penned by war correspondent John Neill:

“The war refugees continue to pour into Paris from Belgium and northern France . . . Before they even take the name of any refugee, they ask, “Have you eaten? No? Then through the door please.” Through the door the refugees find steaming bowls of thick rich soup, solid food in abundance, coffee by the bucket, and the favorite French restorative, hot wine. Infants are particularly well received.”

Journalist Neill continued: “Details of every case are written down in the most complete duplicate forms by volunteer workers whose hardest job is to transmit confidence like a storage battery to refugees without bursting into tears.”

Were the times really so different then?

#Toloveistoact #Toactistolove #Policynotlaw #Stopthemadness

Tricolore Cologne by Coty, Paris, 1940s (Theadora Brack's collection)

Tricolore Cologne by Coty, Paris, 1940s (Theadora Brack’s collection)

La Statue de la Liberté, Pont de Grenelle, Paris, June 1940 (Image: Theadora Brack’s archives)

La Statue de la Liberté, Pont de Grenelle, Paris, June 1940 (Image: Theadora Brack’s archives)

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35 thoughts on “Statue of Liberty: Where is the Love?

  1. Splendiferous post, Theadora. You’ve reminded me of a print engraving I once saw (goodness knows where) made at the the time of construction, Liberty rising surreally in the workshop yard.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dearest Theadora, I’ve ordered Her Right Foot from our library and it is winging its way to me. The Statue of Liberty must be one of the most famous “woman” in the world. This iconic figure stands for all that is good. She represents hope. She promises a new beginning. I pray she can deliver.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Your posts are always inspiring as I learn of the history between our two countries. Sadly, today I am not so sure refugees or immigrants are welcomed the way they should be in the United States. Our border with Mexico is another immigration problem. I hope all is well with you these days!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This book sounds like something I’d love, T, so thanks for telling us about it. Dave Eggers, assuming it’s the same man, a frighteningly prescient book called “The Circle” that I’d encourage everyone to read. So good to see a post from you and thanks for the interesting look at the history of the lovely Lady.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a fabulous post Theadora- am going to NY in December so Liberty is on the To-Do list. Also I have a young grandson who is a real history buff and he loves to hear and real about the cities we visit. I just bought Miroslav Sasek’s This is New York Book for him. Mr Eggers book would be great to pass on to him too.

    Like

  6. Hi, T! Thank you for this informative article. I must say that I am very eager to leave the USA next month for my next international job. It’s not that I don’t love my country, I just don’t love what my country has become.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Theadora, the times were absolutely different.Unfortunately, generation that suffered to gain freedom have passed away, and subsequent generations can not appreciate what they got without making any effort.

    Like

  8. So good to see you Theadora and this is simply the best, you have outdone yourself with this fantastic post. It is so easy to forget the simple and yet powerful message this elegant statue stands for. A gift from our friends that stands the test of time. The history behind her making was an interesting aspect to appreciate as well. Theadora, your message was not lost – thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: WHERE IS THE LOVE . . . THE STATUE OF LIBERTY | Bel' Occhio

  10. Hi all, I just spotted the article below in the New York Magazine. Big hugs, ~T.

    Fundraiser to Help Immigrant Children Raises $4,000 Per Minute
    By Gabriella Paiella, New York Magazine

    After photographer John Moore’s picture of a 2-year-old migrant girl crying at the border went viral, a California couple was inspired to start a fundraiser to help immigrant children and parents. In just three days, it’s raised over $4 million.

    Charlotte and Dave Willner of Silicon Valley have tapped into many Americans’ desire to fight the Trump administration’s brutal family-separation policy. Their fundraiser is for The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), which is currently working on securing legal representation for migrant children and paying the bonds required to reunite families. At one point, money was pouring in at a rate of almost $4,000 per minute.

    “These aren’t kids we don’t have to care about. They’re like our kids,” Charlotte Willner told the The Mercury News. “When we look at the faces of these children, we can’t help but see our own children’s faces.”

    Liked by 2 people

  11. If she’s depicted in “mid-stride” it only slightly takes the edge off how badly she was portrayed in Ghostbusters 2 and Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan.

    Like

  12. Thank you for this wonderful post, Theadora. We need every possible reminder of what Lady Liberty stands for, and hope that soon our country will once again stand for those ideals too. Thank you also for your follow-up post about the RAICES fundraiser, btw. As of this afternoon the donations had exceeded $12 million. $12 MILLION! There are still good people out there … xx

    Like

      • … and now it has topped $20 million. Isn’t that incredible? It’s heartening to see such an outpouring of generosity.

        Like

      • I know. I know. People ’round the globe are still contributing to RAICES.

        Update: As of today, Charlotte and Dave Willner’s viral Facebook campaign to reunite immigrant parents with their children has raised $20,390,074 for the non-profit’s family-reunification bond fund. (www.facebook.com/raicestexas)

        Thanks for stopping by the site again, Heide,
        Theadora

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Can someone forward this post to Pennsylvania Av. to remind the Tenant who his real friends are? (Were?)
    And remind him too that Liberty does not sanction putting children in cages…
    Merci pour ce post.

    Like

  14. I look forward to everyone of your posts – always a joyful exploration into the unknown. I love how you categorize your photos in “Archives” “Collections”. Truly a brilliant idea! Would love to hear how you organized your photos. I have so many photos but really don’t have a clear way of organizing them into a story/narrative as you do. All the very best coming from Vancouver Canada!

    Like

  15. Hi all, Thanks for your thoughtful words. Here’s an update on RAICES. As of yesterday, the viral Facebook campaign has raised 17 million dollars for the non-profit’s family-reunification bond fund.

    “The Willners had a modest goal – raise $1,500 to help an immigrant family post bond. Their campaign has now raised $17 million, and donations are still coming in. When that money is released, it will go to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, known as RAICES. That’s a Texas nonprofit that, among its activities, provides free legal support to immigrants.”
    —NPR, All Things Considered

    Here’s a link to the NPR interview: https://www.npr.org/2018/06/21/622361903/-15-million-raised-for-immigrants-will-be-used-to-provide-legal-support

    Like

  16. I read this with a sadness in my heart, as “war” refugees seek asylum here, and wonder at your conclusion as well “where things so different then”? Thank you for this!

    Like

  17. “To love is to act.” What a sweet act for you to gift such an inspirational book to your readers. I shall be looking into finding this book to read. Thank you for the reminder that once, volunteers met refugees by asking them first, “have you eaten?”

    Like

  18. Great write up. Lady Liberty certainly has become synonymous with the city and of America itself — shame a lot of the original context and history has been forgotten or overlooked.

    Like

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