It’s not every day that a tour de force of the art world visits campus. Mary Baldwin University hosted internationally known sculptor Betty Gold Oct. 19 for a dedication ceremony and film premiere of A Year with Betty Gold. And she didn’t come to campus alone — she brought her “sisters” with her.
Never before together in one space, the “Three Sisters” now sit on lower Cannon Hill on the MBU campus. Gold created a portrait of sisterhood in this large-scale, three-part metal sculpture: she began with a rectangle for each piece, playing with negative and positive space like a Chinese puzzle. Each sister had the same origin, but ended with a different character and individual feeling.
“Growing up, I had an older sister and a younger sister,” Gold said. “I was the tough one and both of them were very feminine. They relied on me, which is funny. I was kind of madam toughy, the middle daughter, the tomboy.”
President Pamela Fox spoke about the special connection this sculpture shares with Mary Baldwin at the dedication ceremony, “This glimpse into Betty and her sisters is deeply resonant with the spirit of our women-centered heritage, of the sisterhood across the ages experienced by our students and graduates, of the hundreds of siblings, sisters, and family members who attended Mary Baldwin as legacies, and of the bond of the spirit of our community.”
Gold had originally planned for the sculpture to reside in her backyard, but she was inspired to give the artwork to Mary Baldwin, where she was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2014, what she called the “acme of my life.”
“If I could do it again, I would like to study here as a young woman,” Gold said. “It is such a beautiful place.”
The documentary A Year with Betty Gold, directed and produced by J. McMerty, was shown in Francis Auditorium. The film chronicled Gold’s life and her rise to prominence beginning in the 1970s as a woman artist creating large-scale metal sculptures in a male-dominated field.
“Well, you have to go to a factory, you have to hire a crane driver, you have to hire a truck, you have to hire moving people, you have to have welders, you have to go to a factory,” Gold said about the process of a woman artist taking a sculpture from idea to reality. “So I’m completely surrounded by these workmen, and they’re really super nice.”
MBU art student Talula Mays ’19 found inspiration in Gold’s artwork and her story, “As a student, it means so much to be able to walk past such beautiful pieces of art every day,” she said at the dedication ceremony. “These sculptures serve as a symbol of hope for women looking to find their place in the art world. Betty Gold, you are an inspiration to students like me, and your work is a daily reminder of what we can and will achieve.”