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Monadnock Profiles: Artist Liz Fletcher talks about bringing history to life

  • Liz Fletcher

  • Liz Fletcher of Mason, with the bronze-cast statue of Bode in the Mason town center. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Liz Fletcher of Mason, with the bronze-cast statue of Bode in the Mason town center. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Friday, October 19, 2018 1:47PM

In the field beside the Mason town offices, a figure cast in bronze sits on a rock, surveying what once would have been open pasture land where he tended cows for the summer, before the state lines were drawn – before Mason was ever a town.

He has quite a serious expression, explained Liz Fletcher of Mason, the sculptor who created the piece. Bode, who is considered the first “resident” of Mason, camping for a part of the year on land a stones throw from the center of town before anyone else lived there, was a slave, herding cows up from Groton.

Fletcher created the piece using the son of a friend as a model, and she said that in those initial sessions of creating his likeness, he was often stone-faced and serious, giving weight to the character of Bode. Based on his name, it’s likely Bode was taken from Africa and sold into slavery.

Fletcher was tasked to take on making the statue as a well-known sculptor in town, after the Mason Historical Society was recognized in the will of Elizabeth Orton Jones, a children’s book author and illustrator who lived in Mason. Mason history had been a long passion of Jones’, and the story of Bode in particular was a fascination of hers, and the Mason Historical Society commissioned Fletcher to bring the figure to life in Jones’ memory. 

Though her statue of Bode is one of the best known for the residents of Mason, Fletcher doesn’t usually sculpt human figures, she said. 

“I make many weird creatures,” she said. “I just get ideas, and they’re not always logical.”

Some of her larger installations are more grounded, but still carry a bit of a surreal feeling. Some of her garden installations mimic wood, curling around themselves like a twisted tree trunk, and some look like bones left behind by a giant being. 

One piece includes a giant foot, leading to a bone jutting from the top. She was inspired to make it after hearing about what could very well be the oldest human footprints found preserved in a lake in Africa. The scale, she said, was inspired by the immensity of the impact the person had left on history.

“I just thought it must have been a mighty foot,” she said. 

Many of her smaller pieces have something to do with political or social commentary – or as Fletcher put it, “the stupidity of the whole world’s situation”.

One of her pieces, for example, was inspired by then-president George W. Bush decided the United States would not be implementing the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. Though, she said, it’s not obvious at first glance what the inspiration might be: The piece is a dump truck, with crazed eyes showing in the front, and a naked behind in the back.

Fletcher said she is inspired by the wonder of nature, as well as the “absurdities of the human condition.” Her connection to natural forms is perhaps unsurprising, as she has been a member of the Mason Conservation Commission and concerned with land protection for several decades. But her art also conveys a sense of time and connection.

“I love to shape clay into creatures and strange beings whose combinations of human, beast, and bone embody the interpenetration of the natural and human worlds, of geologic time and daily life. We're all in it together – voyaging in this great mysterious universe,” Fletcher describes her art on her website. 

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.