Master Sculptor Nilda Comas to Use Stone from Michelango's Quarry
Master sculptor Nilda Comas was selected in a national competition by Florida’s Council on Arts and Culture to create Florida’s sculpture for National Statuary Hall in 2016. At the time she was chosen, she had no idea who her subject would be.
Since learning that Mary McLeod Bethune — founder of Bethune Cookman University, the National Council of Negro Women and co-founder of the United Negro College Fund — would be Florida’s representative in the place she describes as “the most important place in the world where the most important decisions in the world are made,” Comas has immersed herself in the life of the influential educator and stateswoman to prepare herself for what may become the most important work of her career.
“I listened to speeches so I could hear her voice," said Comas. "She had a way of speaking that was so educated, so direct and yet so gentle. That takes a lot of confidence. I think she had so much confidence and that is one of the things that impressed me about her. I can see that someone who could be like that could accomplish so much.”
Comas has visited the Library of Congress and Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site in Washington, D.C., and last week she visited the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation home in Daytona Beach, Florida, to glean insights into Bethune’s life and influence.
“I want to know as much as I can about Mary McLeod Bethune to see what was inside this body, what moved her to care about so many causes, what was right – the ideals. I want to know everything about her and how she came to be,” she said. “She was an excellent communicator and I am impressed by the manners and respect that she had for everyone.”
Comas is working from nearly 300 photographs of Bethune provided by the Library of Congress and consulting with Bethune-Cookman University librarians, archivists and the University’s Office of Legacy and Women’s Initiatives to arrive at the image of Bethune she will sculpt from the same Italian marble used by Michelangelo more than five hundred years ago.
To date, more than $300K has been contributed to the ongoing National Statuary Hall Campaign. The statue is expected to be unveiled in the nation's capitol in 2020.
Click here for an exclusive interview with Nilda Comas from the historic Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation Home. The home was named a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior in 1974.