THE ATHENA PROJECT - SUMMER 2002
This is Athena. She resides in the Parthenon building in Centennial Park, Nashville Tennessee. She is the work of sculptor Alan LeQuire, who, along with a crew of hardworking volunteers completed her construction about 12 years ago. At 42' in height, she is the largest indoor statue in the western hemisphere.She has waited until this year, 2002, to finally get her finishing touches. These will consist of gilding her from top to bottom with 23.75 carat Italian gold leaf. Her skin will be painted to simulate ivory, her lips will be red, and various ornamentation on her robe, helmet and shield will also be painted.
I am on the crew of 10 people that are working on the statue. We began work on Monday, June 3rd. First we had to clean her - scrub off the dirt that had accumulated over the years, plus make sure any waxy film from the casting release agent was sanded, giving the surface a fine tooth. Then we vacuumed. After the cleaning was completed, we began to brush on shellac, starting at the very top and working our way down. We will apply three coats of shellac before brushing on the colored sizing, which is the glue medium that the leaf will stick to. The sheets of gold leaf come in little books, 25 sheets to a book, and measure about 3 inches square. It's going to take a lot of gold sheets to cover the goddess Athena, and also the winged goddess Nike who is perched on her hand. There is no air-conditioning or fans (which would blow the leaf), and it is hot as heck the higher you go up. We all have to wear safety harnesses that we hook into chains on the layers of scaffolding.
I took this and the next few pictures on the first day. I will continue to take more pictures as our work progresses.
- Margaret Krakowiak
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Check out the Nashville Parthenon site!