Area sculptor crafts work for National Slavery Museum





STAUNTON — The sculpted figures of men, women and children writhe and twist as they are pulled through the layers of a whirlpool.

In the center of the oil clay maquette, a figure stretches its arm pleadingly as it is pulled down.

Local sculptor Ken Smith said the idea for his “Middle Passage,” a piece that tells the story of slaves crossing from Africa to the new world, was partially inspired by a scene in the movie “Amistad.” The scene depicts passengers, chained together, who are thrown overboard when food becomes scarce on the slave ship.

“There were all these people who may not even have known each other tied together by circumstance,” Smith said.

The work has been commissioned by the United States National Slavery Museum in Fredericksburg. Smith will spend the next year carving the piece out of Indiana limestone. It will be the second of Smith’s pieces to find a home at the museum.


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