In part 1, I talked about how a lot of the iconography surrounding the USA, and particularly New York, is so familiar to people all around the world that it almost becomes like a universal language. The Statue of Liberty is one such symbol.
The Statue of Liberty was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and constructed, largely in France, by Gustave Eiffel. It was presented to the United States as a gift from the French people in 1886. Since then she has stood on Liberty Island, in New York Harbour, raising her torch to the sky. I don’t want to get into the politics of talking about what the Statue of Liberty stands for, because while I have many views on the opinion, every single one of them is bound to provoke someone to write an angry comment below, and that’s not my aim here.
Instead, I want to talk about the statue itself. We’ve all seen it in pictures a hundred times before, but that does not compare to seeing it in person. I cannot even begin to imagine how those people sailing through the harbour, perhaps even on their first journey to the USA, must have felt when seeing this colossus before them. When you stand beneath it, head tilted to the sky, and look up at its awe-inspiring form, you find yourself wondering how those that built this creature of iron and copper must have felt watching it come together before their very eyes.
My attitude towards the Statue of Liberty is similar towards that of the many churches I have photographed throughout my short time as a photographer. In fact, as architectural work goes, I think my favourite subject is that of religious buildings – and yet I hold no religion. You might think that’s odd, and so do I. Over time, though, I’ve realised that I am fascinated by these buildings because they were constructed to be dedications to an ideal. The Statue of Liberty is no different. I might disagree with what it has come to represent now, but I cannot deny that I am inspired by the dedication of those that brought it into the world.