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Friday, February 21, 2014

Sculpture installed to honor legacy of aunt Lois

"Lois" a sculpture by Clayton Swartz, was unveiled outside the Lois Cowles Harrison Center for the Visual and Performing Arts High School in Lakeland, Florida yesterday. A large multi-media abstract form, it symbolized the legacy of my mother's sister who died last June at the age of 78. According to a passionate speech by Lakeland's Mayor Howard Wiggs, Lois' lifelong contributions to the arts and youth and justice will not be forgotten.

Family lore has it that years ago, when the school was founded, they called my aunt up and asked for permission to name the school after her. She demurred. Then they said their next choice would be to name the school after a football coach. Aunt Lois quickly changed her mind and said, "name it after me!"

The school, a public charter with admission by audition only, has a great school motto: "better artists, better students, better people".

In an article in the Lakeland Ledger the following was best described about the sculpture:
"The three pillars represent Lois' commitment to her family, her community and to young people," Harrison Principal Daryl Ward said during the closing of the cere­mony.
"The upward reaching arch of the sculpture reminds us how Lois was never satisfied with the status quo and was always striving for a better world. The inside ring represents Lois herself, always colorful, high-spirited, her arms reaching out to embrace the pillars in her life.
"And finally the outside rings — red, yellow — symbolize how Lois' passion for justice and art connected all pillars of her life."
Her children and grandchildren under the shadow of "Lois". She must have loved the pink neck ties!

I am so proud to have this great spirit as part of my ancestry. She continues to inspire me and a lot of others. I like the ideal way she stood with such grace and beauty for what she believed to be important, for the needs of her communities far and near. She was beautiful inside and out.
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