VIRGINIA WOMEN’S MONUMENT
Monument Design Competition with Joanna Campbell Blake
The Virginia Women’s Monument is designed as both a commemorative and contemplative space where women of the Commonwealth’s past, present and future are celebrated and their contributions to society are honored.
The central, defining figure of the monument is a contemporary figurative sculpture of Virtus. Her presence on the Commonwealth’s seal since 1776 has carried the symbolic elements of the Roman matriarch long associated with the state representing the founding principles of wisdom, honor, spirit and courage. This figure is very much a present-day interpretation. Her face is open and accessible, her hair is loose, her dress is simple and well worn, and her gaze is fixed on Thomas Jefferson’s 1788 neoclassical Capitol, the symbolic center of justice and democracy in the Commonwealth. She is the embodiment of hard-won achievement and an invitation for woman of all ages and backgrounds to see these virtues within themselves.
To the north and south of the central figure extend two arching pathways embracing and defining this civic space. The northern path is enclosed by the Wall of Remembrance, a bas relief panel illustrating a selection of distinguished women from Virginia whose vision and civic contributions to the Commonwealth and our country improved the whole of society. The recognition of women continues along the north wall with the inscribed names of exceptional Virginia women and relief portraits intertwined with the vines of the Virginia Creeper representing the unity of all women who have struggled to change, enlighten and inspire future generations.
Along the outer curve of the southern pathway is the Wall of the Future. Young women and girls of differing ages ethnicities and cultural backgrounds emerge from the wall as a manifestation of enthusiasm for the future in an untiring and supportive community and encouraged by the Commonwealth that is Virginia. These images evoke the human virtues of humility, courage, compassion and strength.
Together, the arms of each wall form an open, inviting embrace eastward, in the direction of the Capitol building. At the heart of the space is Virtus, a well-grounded female figure whose uplifted gaze and humble appearance both honors our past and inspires our future.