The public is invited to visit with nationally recognized sculptor Benjamin Victor this week as he works on a new Standing Bear memorial sculpture at the Jayne Snyder Trail Center in Union Plaza. The hours are 1 to 4 p.m. today through April 4 at the Trail Center, 228 N. 21st Street.
Victor has been commissioned to create an 11-foot bronze sculpture of the Ponca Chief to be placed on Centennial Mall this fall in connection with the State’s Sesquicentennial Celebration. The memorial is made possible by a gift from the Foundation of Lincoln native Donald Campbell, whose family owned the Miller and Paine department store. Judi M. gaiashkibos, Executive Director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, met Campbell while both served on the Doane College Board.
“Don was so moved by the story of Standing Bear that he later contacted me about commissioning a monument,” gaiashkibos said. “We determined the Capital City was the best location and worked with Mayor Beutler and Lincoln Parks and Recreation to find the right spot on the newly renovated Centennial Mall. Don’s vision and support are making it possible for many generations of Nebraskans to hear and be inspired by Standing Bear’s incredible story.”
After the government forced his tribe to move from Nebraska to Oklahoma, Standing Bear returned to his native land to bury his son and was arrested. His landmark trial in 1879 in Omaha established that Native Americans are “persons within the meaning of the law.”
Victor is working on the clay model from which the bronze will be cast. He brought the model to Lincoln from Idaho, where he is an Artist-in-Residence and Professor of Practice at Boise State University. Humanities Nebraska is funding his visit to Nebraska. Other partners in the project are the Lincoln Parks Foundation and the Lincoln Partners for Public Art Development.
In 2005 when Victor was just 26, his sculpture of Native American activist Sarah Winnemucca was installed in the nation’s foremost collection, the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. He is the only living artist to have two works in Statuary Hall. Victor recently completed a bronze sculpture of a football player in vintage attire for Peru State College. Art critics and organizations, including the National Sculpture Society in New York City, continue to recognize the aesthetic and conceptual integrity of his artwork. His website is benjaminvictor.com.