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Madeline Lord
Fort Washington Park

Title: Revolutionary Figures
Date: 1987
Materials: Painted Steel
Dimensions: Life-size
Location: Waverly Street

Seeing and experiencing

Before the United States was even a country, George Washington built a fort in Cambridge that overlooked the Charles River. In a November 28, 1755 report to the Continental Congress, Washington wrote, "I have caused two half moon batteries to be thrown up, for occasional use, between Lechmere's Point and the mouth of the Cambridge River." In the 1850s, the fort was made into a city park. Since then the river has been filled in, and today the fort is almost lost amid the sprawl of industrial and MIT-owned buildings.

Madeline Lord's sculptural installation features five figures from two periods in the site's history: its life as a fort and its life as a park.

Historical Photo

Who are these figures and what are they doing here? What is their relationship to one another? Which historical period do you think each of these figures represents? Do they give you a sense of what it might have been like to be a soldier in Washington's army or a Victorian lady enjoying a leisurely stroll?

Do Lord's figures seem substantial or do they have more of a shadowy presence, like whispers from the past?

In what ways do the figures echo other elements in the park? Do these figures feel like they belong here?

Was Madeline Lord successful in bringing to life this site's rich history?

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Onsite

This is a park that invites you to use your imagination. Imagine that you are one of Washington's soldiers. Now picture yourself as a Victorian-era Cambridge resident. What are those different time periods like? How are they different from modern life? How has use of this site changed over time? What stories can you create about this site?

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Hand-on

Drawing
What you will need:
Paper, charcoal, scissors, tape, glue.

Lord's sculptures resemble silhouettes, a likeness sketched in outline form and then colored in. Make your own silhouettes. Have a friend sit in front of a light source (like a desk lamp) so that the light casts a shadow of the person's profile on the opposite wall. Ask your subject to strike different poses. When you find the pose you like best, tape a piece of paper on the wall where the shadow is cast. Use charcoal to outline the shadow, then fill in the outline with your charcoal. Cut out the silhouette and glue it onto light-colored paper.

Three demensional
What you will need:
Old newspapers and magazines, cardboard, glue, black acrylic paint, clay or plasticene.

Instead of one sculpture or a painting on the wall, an installation is a gathering of different elements in a space. When an artist creates an installation, they think about how the viewer will interact with all of the different components. Lord's piece is a park-wide installation.

Make a miniature installation. Thumb through newspapers and magazines to find photographs of people standing in full-length poses. Once you have found six full-length figures, cut them out carefully so that the backgrounds vanish entirely and you are left with just the figures. Glue your figures onto cardboard, then trim away the cardboard edges. Paint the front and the back of your figures.

Create a cardboard stage for the figures. Stick the figures in a clay or plasticene base so they can stand up. How will you arrange the figures in the space? Do you want to add anything else to the piece? What is your piece about? Do the figures have a specific relationship?

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