Alston Commissioned to Create Willa Cather Statue for U.S. Capitol

alstonLittleton Alston, MFA, professor in the Fine and Performing Arts Department, has been commissioned to create a bronze statue of Willa Cather for installation in Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Alston will be the first African American sculptor to have a piece in Statuary Hall.

Each state is allowed two statues in the Hall and the Nebraska Legislature last year approved replacing the statues of J-Sterling Morton and William Jennings Bryan after 80 years with statues of Cather and Ponca Chief Standing Bear.

A committee appointed for the Cather statue project received proposals from over 70 qualified artists and worked with the Nebraska Arts Council to cut the number down to four finalists. Arts Council Executive Director Suzanne Wise says Alston was chosen because it was felt he showed the best understanding of who Willa Cather was as a person.

Alston, who has numerous public sculptures throughout Nebraska and the Midwest, says he was struck by photos of the author that convinced him Cather was a vividly intelligent person with a twinkle in her eye. He plans to capture her essence with her standing at home in the Nebraska prairie.

The total budget for the project is estimated at $150,000 from start to installation at the Capitol with all the funds to come from private donations through History Nebraska, the rebranded state historical society.