Client: Alachua County
Location: Gainesville, FL, United States
Completion date: 2019
Artwork budget: $45,000
Lady Justice was commissioned by Arts Council of Alachua County for the Public Defenders Office in Gainesville, Florida. It is a bronze figure with stainless steel bowls. Dimensions: 55″h x 96″w x 33″. It's intention was to re-imagine the classic symbolism of Lady Justice to represent this office to its clients and the communities it serves.
A goal was to create an inviting and approachable symbol for the Public Defenders office and integrate it into the space with a very deliberate location selection, a human-scale size and orientation. The base was scaled to the space and building materials replicated in the sculptures base. Lighting was important to everyone for gaining attention at night and the solution was simple lighting from the building.
I had a listening session with the Lawyers in the PDO to understand how they viewed their profession so I could translate their passion and the purpose of this office into this sculpture far better than I ever could have alone.This is a far too brief summary of our journey together. It was my intention from the beginning to reinterpret Lady Justice in a more contemporary way. I saw "equal justice" as the dominate symbol for the Public Defender's Office so it needed to be more than just holding the scales in its classic form. The Public Defenders believed it was their job to "see" their clients so Lady Justice should not be blindfolded. The sword as symbol for "swift justice" was added as a symbol by kings and tyrants for intimidation purposes. But, the PDO lawyers talked about how they were continually "fighting" for their clients, so we re-purposed this classic symbol as a sheathed sword on her belt, ready for a fight if necessary. They even asked me to add some battle scars on her to symbolize their battles for justice. I did.
According to the PDO Lawyers our dialogue was a very meaningful process. This was not a casual discussion. We delved deeply into why they do what they do and how they feel about what they do. I left with a deep appreciation for the work they do and we all feel our dialogue was expressed in this work. I developed an extensive document detailing all the symbolism contained in the work for them and for posterity.