A Richmond-based design firm founded and owned by John Crank ’79 was one of two firms that collaborated on the winning design for the Virginia Women’s Monument. The monument, which will highlight 400 years of contributions made by Virginia women, will be located at Capitol Square in Richmond.
The 1717 Design Group was selected by the Women of Virginia Commemorative Commission to design the monument. Crank also is the firm’s principal designer. His wife, Laura Miller Crank ’79, is the company’s treasurer and a member of University of Lynchburg’s Alumni Association Board. The couple met while both were studying art the College.
For the winning design, The 1717 Design Group teamed up with Brooklyn-based sculpture firm StudioEIS. The two companies have worked together on dozens of projects. “They traditionally make museum figures and bronzes,” Crank said. “They’ve made both for us — 60-some different, sculpted figures — in the last 25 years we’ve worked together. We designed the whole concept of the monument and graphics and their part will be when the figures are sculpted, to figure out the poses and create the sculptures.”
Ground was broken for phase one of the project earlier this month. When completed, the monument will include an oval-shaped garden with bronze, life-sized sculptures of 12 women who are important to Virginia’s history. In addition to the sculptures, the names of other women who have made significant contributions to the Commonwealth will be listed on an etched-glass panel. Other design elements include landscaping, granite seating, ornamental railings, stone pavers, and a sundial and compass.
“The monument’s design is intended to be a thought-provoking and interactive experience that complements the more traditional heroic monuments that already grace Capitol Square,” Crank said in a press release about the project. “We see this monument as a metaphor for the many visible and often unrecognized voices that have been responsible for shaping our culture, country, and Commonwealth for over 400 years.”
The women featured in the monument will include Ann Burras Laydon, one of the first two female settlers in Jamestown; Pamunkey chief Cockacoeske; folk legend Mary Draper Ingles; First Lady Martha Washington; newspaper editor Clementina Bird Rind; Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln’s seamstress and confidant; hospital administrator Sally “Captain Sally” Tompkins; community leader Maggie L. Walker; pioneering doctor Sarah Boyd Jones; businesswoman and writer Laura Lu Copenhaver; educator Virginia Estelle Randolph; and Adele Goodman Clark, suffragette and a founder of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
The Cranks also collaborated with the College on the LC LOVE installation, located in the Dell. You can read more about that here.