By Glen Rogers
On September 9, 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, my sculpture, “Throne for a Goddess,” was installed in Austria. It was an exciting project for me, my first public sculpture in Europe, but unfortunately, I couldn’t attend the opening due to international travel restrictions. For this reason, I created a commemorative print as a way to celebrate and honor the sculpture locally. Since the theme of the piece is all about empowering and honoring women, from the ancient to the present, I offered a fundraising opportunity to Mujeres en Cambio, a San Miguel de Allende non-profit that empowers young women in rural communities by offering educational scholarships.
It was through a number of synchronous events in 2019 that culminated in the sculpture. A group exhibition in Ghent, Belgium, “Crossing Borders,” was my main reason for going to Europe that year. After that, I traveled to Vienna with a friend to visit her family. My passion for pre-historic goddess cultures led me to ask our hosts if there were any Neolithic or Paleolithic sites nearby. To my surprise, they told me the Venus of Willendorf, one of the oldest and most celebrated Paleolithic goddess figurines, was housed in The Natural History Museum in Vienna. Even though I had studied about her many years before, I didn’t remember that she was excavated in Austria. With a feeling of reverence and excitement, we paid her a visit the very next day.
On display in a special room with only a few other artifacts, the tiny 4½-inch limestone sculpture is believed to be almost 30,000 years old. With her characteristic voluptuous shape, she is an archetype for fertility and Mother Earth. For me and many women around the world, the Willendorf figure is a symbol of female empowerment.
A couple of days later, our host introduced us to the developer of the new St. Ruprecht/Raab sculpture park in the Styrian countryside. The park, which is beautifully laid out like a giant peace symbol, already had 25 sculptures by local artists. I’ve designed many public sculptures in the San Francisco Bay Area, with pieces like “Three Wings” and “Spirit Gate,” so naturally I was visualizing one of my pieces there.
Newly inspired by the Willendorf figure, I designed a piece to honor the Divine Feminine, the primary focus for my artwork for so many years. After my proposal was accepted, a company in Austria fabricated the sculpture using my computer generated drawings. The final piece, “Throne for a Goddess,” is an invitation to sit and be embraced by the Great Mother. Made of gold-tone anodized aluminum and rusted steel, it stands 6.5 feet tall. Cut into the metal is the Willendorf figure along with feminine symbols of the moon, spirals, and an inspirational message.
You can purchase this beautiful commemorative print at Lavinia’s Framing and my website: www.glenrogersart.com. Forty percent of the proceeds will go towards the education of young rural girls with the help of Mujeres en Cambio.