Sculpture Details: Making Some Revisions

A Perfectionist's work is never done...

The left hand, holding the sketchpad, felt awkward once I really paid attention to the gesture line from wrist, past the radius, through the humorous, and up into the front lean of the shoulder. I tried sitting in the position while holding the pad. It just wasn’t natural. So, as I’ve done to most pieces of the sculpture, numerous times, I melted it down to try again.

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What’s funny, is that most of the hand is hidden by the pad and leg of the piece. No one will easily see it. It still matters, though. Everyone knows what a human looks like and will process something is off subconsciously even if they can’t put a finger on it.

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I looked at a lot of photos of Victorian men in vests. I wanted to see how they pulled and draped. What I kept seeing was 5 button vests. The 7 button vest was not very common. The more I looked at the torso, the more I felt the 7 buttons were too regular and busy. It felt more like a washboard than a soft vest. I cleaned off my pallet knives and jumped back in, filling in all of my vest work to build out his torso, re-evaluate the pull of his coat, and help the flow.

A little bit of details about the process...

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The first photo is just a shot of how I cool my wax for hand building. It’s kind of like working with chocolate. All the work I was going to do on the coat and sleeves would require rolling the wax into soft bars to lay out fold lines. I lay out the line in the flow of the fabric, and press it into shape with my fingers.

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At a certain point of the process I take down all of my photos and drawings of the model I use for figurative dimensions. I have pages of measurements, angles, thicknesses, etc. I put it all away, along with a lot of the fear and anxiety I work with for months, trying to correctly represent the anatomy and mass the subject will take up in the world. I let go of all of that, and just work from the piece relating to itself.

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I keep photos of Bannister on the walls to keep me company, and I print up some of his paintings to look at while I work. This is the most enjoyable and exciting time for me. Now, every little nudge and addition has big effects. I can just start to see Mr. Bannister looking back at me.

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An Annotated Bibliography on Edward Mitchell Bannister and Christiana Carteaux Bannister

This annotated bibliography is the result of a collaboration between the Providence Art Club and historian-teacher (and owner of the blog "Historia Magistra"), Michael McGuigan. What started out as a simple partnership to prepare some teacher resources about the Bannisters and the time period they lived in, ended with, not only teacher resources, but this detailed and constantly-growing bibliography.

You can access the bibliography on Providence Art Club's beloved founder and his wife here.

Sculpture Details: The Clothing

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Time to dress and accessorize!

With armature fixed, I began to bulk up the cores, and prepare for clothing. Chelsea boots went on. I began to set a base lines for end lines on appendages. I realized that I would need to start working on the sketch pad now. How it would sit in the hands, and what space it would occupy would be effected by the mass of the clothing. I knew for the casting process it would be better for the foundry if the hands and pad were removable to be cast separately.


I used 1/8 deep silicone baking mats to make separate layers of wax sheets. I pressed these together into the sketchbook, adhering the top, curled section to the main body with a sheet of wax dipped fabric. Otherwise, it would always be falling off. It looks like I will need to attach the left hand to the sketchbook as one unit, which will slide past the left leg, and into the left cuff. The right hand will be by itself, and slide into the right cuff, to rest on top of the sketchbook.

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I would need to figure out how the wrists would join with the cuffs without getting bound by the legs or clothing.

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I am attaching a second cuff to the wrists. I thought it was a neat detail to show that men's shirts would button a starched cuff over their shirt cuff to be seen from their coat sleeve.

The Victorians were full of layers.

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Still working on the vest... I'm blocking out the lines for the sack coat, and bulking out mass of the pant legs. The literature describes Bannister as slender. The only almost full body images I’ve found of him back this up. He was fit, an avid sailor.

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Still, walking around the piece, I start to see a need to build up his torso. The challenge of full bodied, clothed figures, is keeping the gesture of the form while you pile on layers of clothing. You have to keep your lines, carry the tension of the fabric throughout the different relating forms, and maintain a feeling of the clothing’s material. But first, before you fiddle with details, you need to get as much mass on the figure you can, make sure it flows, and keeps up with the feel of the portrait head.

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Public Gathering: Thursday, September 15 at Market Square

Thursday September 15, 2022 | 5:30pm On September 15th, 2022, the Bannister Community Art Project Steering Committee teamed up with the Downtown Providence Parks Network to co-host and present an informative display at the projected build site. With approximately 50 people in attendance, attendees were treated to a performance of Edward Bannister himself in conjunction … Read more

Town Hall Meeting: Wednesday September 28th at Providence Art Club


Wednesday September 28, 2022 | 5:30pm - 7:30pm

 The Providence Art Club hosted a Town Hall Meeting in regards to the Bannister Community Art Project in their Maxwell Mays Gallery on Wednesday, September 28th from 5:30 - 7:30pm. This meeting was presented exclusively to the PAC Membership, where members were informed about the project's latest developments. Members also got to meet the project team's community partners, and learn more about the project's potential to expand our Club's impact and presence in the wider Providence arts scene.

Below you can learn more about the speakers from the event, review photos [coming soon], and view the video of the presentation [coming soon].

Speakers of the Evening

Nancy Gaucher-Thomas - Co-Chair of the Bannister Community Art Project

Nancy Gaucher-Thomas is an artist, arts consultant, administrator, and prominent advocate in the urban arts community of Providence. She is the founder of Art League RI and co-founder of Public Arts Works, two artist collaboratives that work to integrate art into public spaces to promote healing and inspiration in healthcare and public sector environments. As former President and a member of the Providence Art Club, Nancy has displayed a passion for this historic Club and its founder since she joined in 2005.

Jennifer Davis-Allison - Co-Chair of the Bannister Community Art Project

Jennifer Davis-Allison is the Principal of Partners Training & Consulting, a training and consulting services firm that focuses on enhancing the ability of individuals and organizations to tackle issues of growth and change in a highly competitive and diversified marketplace. As one of the founding members of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women (RI Chapter), Jennifer has a passion for advocating and promoting the health, education, and empowerment of black women, girls, and communities in Rhode Island.

Elizabeth A. Richards-Hegnauer - School Leader at Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts

Elizabeth Richards-Hegnauer is an artist, educator, and leader amongst the greater Rhode Island Arts & Education community. As current Head of School for the Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts, works with a fierce, dynamic, and optimistic force. As a founding administrator of TAPA, Elizabeth designed, built, and continues to nurture a thriving urban charter school that is recognized for its culture of respect, responsibility, and results.

Keith W. Stokes - Director of Business and Economic Development for the City of Providence

Keith Stokes is currently serving as the Director of Business and Economic Development for the City of Providence, where he works with community leaders to strategize projects to bring to the city that promote prosperity and cultural celebration. As Vice President of the 1696 Heritage Group, Keith is also dedicated to helping persons and institutions of color to increase their knowledge and access to the education of their true American heritage.

Ray Rickman - Executive Director of Stages of Freedom

Ray Rickman is the co-founder and Executive Director of Stages of Freedom, a nonprofit organization that dedicates its time to providing African American cultural programs to thousands of Rhode Islanders of all races.

Gregg Perry - on behalf of Barbara Papitto, Founder and Trustee of Papitto Opprtunity Connection

By investing in these communities through education, skills training, and entrepreneurship, POC Foundation dedicates its time to working with BIPOC individuals of all ages to jump-start their success from day one.

Gage Prentiss - Sculptor of the Bannister Statue

Bannister Statue Proposed for Market Square

By Beth Comery, February 12, 2022 Recently, Beth at the Providence Daily Dose wrote an article on the initial plans for the Bannister Project that have been released to the public. In her article, she gives the public a more detailed sneak peek of the project and the message behind it. Sharing the excitement for … Read more

Town Hall Meeting: Wednesday April 6th at Brown University


The Brown University's Center for Public Humanities is located in the historic Nightingale-Brown House at 357 Benefit Street. It was founded as the John Nicholas Brown Center for the Study of American Civilization following the death of John Nicholas Brown in 1979, when his widow and children established an educational foundation to encourage study and research in American art, history, architecture, and historic preservation. In 1995, the Center became a part of Brown University, and in 2006 it became the headquarters of the public humanities program. In 2008, the Center changed its name to the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage to more accurately describe the work of the Center and the students in the public humanities program. Today, students, faculty, and staff at the Center work together to advance the field of public humanities through teaching, scholarship, and public programs.

Wednesday April 6, 2022 | 5:30pm - 7:30pm

The Story Behind The Name

By Soren Sorensen, Winter 2011 In this 2011 Winter Issue of Tribe Magazine, Soren Sorensen delves into legacies left by important figures throughout history, and how those accomplishments are honored today. If you take a stroll through your city, and pay close attention, you’ll see plaques and other commemorative structures around every corner. This is … Read more

Newport Gilded Age in Color

Join Keith Stokes in this video presentation as he delves into the history of black artists during the Gilded Age of Newport, Rhode Island. Presented in part by the Newport Art Museum, Stokes covers the African Heritage experience from 1865 to 1930 that occurred right in our very own backyards. The images that you see in this video have been collected by the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, Newport Historical Society, state archives, and private families who have donated their efforts and time in digitizing these historic images and documents.

The video presentation is accessible indefinitely to the public for your viewing pleasure.