Julia Dorr now gazes upon downtown from the lawn of Rutland Free Library.
A large bust of Dorr was unveiled Wednesday as the ninth addition to the Rutland Sculpture Trail. Dorr, a prominent writer in her time, was also one of the founders of the city’s library.
Much of the talk Wednesday circled around Dorr’s success at a time when far fewer opportunities were afforded to women, and Carving Studio and Sculpture Center Executive Director Carol Driscoll noted that “three successful women” — former Green Mountain Power CEO Mary Powell, former Rutland City Schools Superintendent Mary Moran and business consultant Joan Gamble — funded the sculpture.
Powell could not attend, but Moran and Gamble each offered remarks before physically unveiling the sculpture.
Gamble said arts are the “heart and soul” of a community and that she was proud to help “make Rutland’s soul more visible.” She said she was also thrilled to have helped honor Dorr in particular.
“I admire her chutzpah being a renowned writer and a poet at a time ... when it wasn’t particularly easy for women,” Gamble said. “She describes how important reading was to her starting young in life. ... I also love that she wrote up until her 85th birthday, and that’s when she got a degree from Middlebury. A mentor of mine used to say either you’re green and growing or ripe and rotting.”
Moran also commented on the importance of public art, saying Rutland’s devotion to it made her proud.
“In having this very public piece in a very prominent place in the city, every young woman and young man should be able to see someone who overcame incredible odds,” she said.
Artist Amanda Sisk, who designed the sculpture, said one of her goals was to show Dorr’s relationship with nature. The figure in the sculpture wears a cloak made of 14 plants and animals mentioned in her poem “Over the Wall.” Sisk also said Dorr embodied a “tender strength” that she wanted to capture.
“In part due to the pandemic, I noted how Julia Dorr weathered grief,” Sisk said. “This is a woman who grieved, and her many, many poems about loss also contained joy.”
Library Director Randal Smathers said in discussions about where to put the sculpture, he argued that the corner had the best view of downtown. He also said they would have a bench installed by the sculpture in the spring.
“We’ll invite everyone to come and share the view with Julia,” he said.