4. Audrey Flack

Audrey Flack, (American, b.1931)

Head of Civitas

Bronze with patina, 1993

Purchased by the Wally Findlay Acquisitions Fund

Cornell Fine Arts Museum

1993.4

 

Although Audrey Flack began her career as a prolific painter—working as both an Abstract Expressionist and a photorealist—her focus changed to sculptural work in the 1980s. Since then, Flack has developed herself as a figurative sculptor, creating images of women in positions and contexts of worship and myth. 

 

Head of Civitas is a maquette of a series of larger sculptures Flack created for the city of Rock Hill, South Carolina. Civitas translates roughly to civic responsibility or virtue, a title that works alongside the roles of these statues as representations of the city. Each of the four larger sculptures held its own symbol of the spirit of the city: flames of knowledge, stars of inspiration, lightning bolts of energy, and gears of industry. Although the Head of Civitas does not have one of the symbols that were placed on the finalized sculptures, others still are embedded in the piece. The green patina is reminiscent of monumental bronze sculptures left exposed to the elements—for example, the Statue of Liberty. The ripples of her hair call back to Ionic capitals in classical architecture. Three stars and a rose, both biblical symbols of the Virgin Mary, rest above her forehead. These details serve to embed in the piece a context of greatness and classical tradition. By combining symbols of different cultures and eras, Flack creates both a personal and civic iconography for herself and for the city of Rock Hill.