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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

Artist Crafts The Ceres Statue That Will Soon Top The Statehouse Dome

Calais sculptor Chris Miller is making final preparations on Ceres at the Barre Granite Museum.
Ric Cengeri
Calais sculptor Chris Miller is making final preparations on Ceres at the Barre Granite Museum.

She stands 14-and-a-half feet tall, weighs around two tons and Vermont can't wait for her to ascend the roof of the Statehouse in Montpelier. The statue of Ceres, goddess of Agriculture, is expected to be placed atop the golden dome on Friday, November 30, according to sculptor Chris Miller of Calais.

This will be the third version of Ceres to grace the Statehouse. The original was created by Larkin Mead in 1858. Ceres II took over 80 years ago, but was removed in early April this year. The pinewood statue was waterlogged and is still drying out after over seven months protected from the elements.

Credit Ric Cengeri / VPR
The new sculpture of Ceres is based on the clay model designed by Jerry Williams.

For this third incarnation of the Statehouse sculpture, Jerry Williams of Barre created a clay model using two blurry photographs of the original and drawings made by Mead as his guide. 

The model was then given to Miller to create the third Ceres. Miller has been working 10-to-12-hour days since August to complete the sculpture. And he's confident it will be completed on schedule.

"It's expected November 30, and there's a very good chance it will be done by then," Miller says.  But he won't rush the creation, that is expected to last for 150 years. "I have reserved the right, if it's not done, it's not going to go up. So if it takes more time, they'll delay it. But there's a fairly good chance we'll hit the date."

As Miller chips away at the wood, visitors numbering in the thousands have stopped by the Barre Granite Museum to watch him work.

He says he often has to clear up two misconceptions about the sculpture. It's white not gold. The Statehouse dome is gold. And Vermont's Ceres statue has always been made of wood, even though some folks thought that previous incarnations were chiseled from granite or marble.

Broadcast on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Ric was a producer for Vermont Edition and host of the VPR Cafe.
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