The Genius Girl Project
The title “Genius” sparked in me a very strong reaction to Public Art and it’s potential. A remnant of Vallejo’s past was exhumed out of obscurity, and publicly forced upon us, irregardless of any redeeming social value it might contain, and ignoring the public's overwhelming objections to it. Oddly titled “Genius” it was reinstated in the square at Georgia and Santa Clara at considerable expense.
There was much debate about the appropriateness of reinstalling this work, but the past prevailed.
Looking at this sculpture called Genius puzzled me. With his anguished face and broken neck he certainly did not lift up my spirits, nor fill me with joy. This tortured statue implies that in order to be a “Genius” one has to be in grave pain and suffering.
However this sad creature did start me thinking of the purpose of public Art. I easily concluded that Public Art should uplift our being, emotionally, physically and spiritually as individual humans and as a community. I strive for my sculpture to reflect the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. Instead this old version of “Genius” reflects perfectly the sad state our beloved Vallejo is in at this moment in time. Vallejo reflects this statue’s intense physical and mental anguish, as we are being beaten down by brutality, inequality, poverty, bureaucratic inequity, and inhumanity.
Is this how we residents of Vallejo, and the World, want to see ourselves?
Is this painfully tortured man trying to attain some Lofty goal? I think not! He is saying “No matter how hard you try to attain greatness it is going to hurt you. So forget about it.” Even with beautiful powerful wings we cannot rise up. If this strong winged man cannot reach lofty heights what chance do lowly Vallejo creatures have? We are being told we do not have a chance.
Our answer is a resounding NO! Thus the inspiration for Genius Girl was born!
In our community we glimpse aspects and hints of beauty, power, skill and talent every day, just as we see the pain, suffering, agony and cruelty.
Artists have the ability to isolate all those fleeting moments, freeze them in time go either way; I choose the Good, the True and the Beautiful to remind us of our potential and make us smile and feel good.
The people of Vallejo have the power, will, and strength to overcome our challenges to reach incredible heights. We can aspire to a glorious future.
The faces of our children reflect the beauty, hope, joy and determination we can attain.
All these thoughts were swirling and fermenting in my head! How would I show this aspiration and determination to greatness?
With all these lofty qualities I also had to show our righteous defiance and resistance in the face of ignorance, inequality and injustice.
I had only to look as far as the brave and resolute professional athletes who were willing to sacrifice their professional careers to make the point of equality and justice!
They inspired her pose and gesture.
I now needed a model to convey these ideas and ideals! The Universe was listening and delivered to me the perfect girl! This young African American woman was not only a delight to sculpt, with her classical African beauty. She represents the strength, intelligence, and power needed to lead us into a beautiful future. Our hope for the future is black girls growing into women. We see all girls, all boys, all creatures coming into their own Genius!
Genius Girl, the sculpture, uplifts and makes us smile with the joy and hope of the possible.