RUTLAND— Andrea Mead Lawrence (1932-2009), a Rutland native and America’s only Olympic skier to win two gold medals in the same event, will be the subject of the fifth sculpture in a series highlighting figures of local and regional history.
Andrea Mead Lawrence grew up in Mendon and her parents, Brad and Janet Mead, founded the Pico Ski Area, at that time the only Alpine ski area in Rutland County. There, Andrea learned to ski, a path that would put her on a trajectory to become the first and only winner of two gold medals in Giant Slalom and Slalom, respectively, at the age of 19, in the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, followed by more championship victories.
In 1983 Andrea Mead Lawrence was inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Daughter Quentin Andrea Lawrence said the sculpture was an honor her mother would be proud of.
“She often called herself ‘a good Vermont Yankee,’ remaining devoted to Rutland and the Green Mountains of her childhood,” Quentin Lawrence said. “Although she fell in love with the open spaces of the American West, she always attributed her passion for environmental justice to the joys of growing up playing on Pico Peak, as well as the streams and forests of her childhood home. We as a family are very happy to see that she will be remembered in this honorable tribute and hope that her memory will inspire many generations to come.”
Mead Lawrence, who authored “A Practice of Mountains” with Sara Burnaby (Seaview Books, 1980) became an environmental activist based in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. In 2003, she founded the Andrea Lawrence Institute for Mountains and Rivers, a nonprofit group focused on preserving the Sierra Nevada range.
In 2011, two years after her death, Congress passed, and President Obama signed, the Mount Andrea Lawrence Designation Act, renaming a 12,240 peak along the John Muir Trail, “Mount Andrea Lawrence.”
Steve Shaheen, a Brooklyn-based sculptor who led the team that created “Stone Legacy,” a tribute to the region’s stone industry, will lead a team to create the Mead Lawrence monument. He said he is inspired by Lawrence’s words, following her gold-medal wins in 1952, which will also be inscribed on the marble: “There are few times in our lives where we become the thing we are doing.”
“I see an exact correlation between athletics and artistry,” said Shaheen, “when you hit that Zen moment where everything else disappears, and the line between creator and creation becomes indistinguishable.”
The sculpture is one in a series planned for downtown Rutland locations. The sculptures are carved by hand from “Danby White” marble, quarried at Dorset Mountain and donated by Vermont Quarries of Mendon.
“The Jungle Book” by Barre artist Sean Hunter Williams is already in place on Center Street. The series includes a planned sculpture highlighting the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, the first official black regiment created in the Union Army after the Emancipation Proclamation; and a piece honoring Revolutionary War hero Ann Story. The Ann Story, 54th Regiment and Lawrence sculptures will be carved this summer and early fall.
Other possible subjects include Rutland residents and Civil War figures Edward and William Ripley, Rutland’s John Deere, Norman Rockwell, Ethan Allen, and Martin Henry Freeman, a Rutland native who became the nation’s first African-American college president in 1856.
The project was inspired by a South Dakota public art project that includes bronze sculptures of all U.S. presidents, which GMP vice president Steve Costello, who founded Rutland Blooms, saw.
Carving Studio and Sculpture Center Executive Director Carol Driscoll said the series had already exceeded her initial hopes, with expectations for five sculptures to be complete and installed by fall. The goal is to commission and install at least 10 sculptures by 2022.