Not long after completing her compelling sculpture entitled “Twenty,” a tribute to the children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, New Haven sculptor Susan Clinard began work on a second piece honoring the six women who gave their lives while protecting students or confronting the shooter.
The new piece, as yet unnamed, depicts the school’s principal, school psychologist, two teachers and two teacher aides shoulder to shoulder, facing outward in an enclosed circle, linked by their clasped hands.
About a month in the making, the ceramic sculpture is more articulated than “Twenty,” which was made of formed, translucent paper. Clinard said she endeavored to present a likeness of each of the women killed and wanted to express their roles as guardians standing together “in a wall of protection and love.”
While the two pieces were created with different materials, they are now part of the same sculpture, inextricably linked by their historical reference, evocative power and healing presence.
Clinard said that upon completion of the sculpture, she reached out to friend, R. John Williams, an assistant professor of English at Yale University and a videographer, with an offer to collaborate on the sculpture’s presentation in the form of a video.
The pieces were filmed in an empty room in a barn adjacent to Clinard’s studio on Whitney Avenue. Williams said he thought the addition of a single school desk to the backdrop would have a strong symbolic presence. As synchronicity would have it, a friend of Clinard was able to provide an antique student desk that worked well in the rustic environment of the barn.
During the editing process, which was completed a day after the shoot, Williams found himself crying at times as the video came together.
His selection of instrumental acoustic guitar music by Windham Hill Records recording artist and founder William Ackerman was intended to be temporary, but after hearing how well the music paired with the imagery, Clinard decided to go with it. Ackerman readily agreed to the use of his recording. The song, appropriately called “Passage,” was weaved into the visual narrative of the video.
Clinard’s “Twenty” was recently shown at the Healing Newtown exhibit. The father of one of the slain Sandy Hook Elementary School students was touched by Clinard’s soulful sculpture and expressed his appreciation of her offering. Clinard said that she hopes to gift both sculptures to the town of Newtown now that the sculpture is complete. “I cannot imagine a more appropriate place for the piece and hope that it will find a home there” she said.
With the creation of the recently produced video, the sculpture will no doubt find a home in the hearts of many more who will be touched by its therapeutic potential.