In this age when the woman’s role in society is being questioned and scrutinized, the gospel of Jesus Christ provides a clear and eternal pattern amid the confused and uninspired philosophies of men. In order to depict the Latter-day Saint conception of the role of women in the gospel plan, the Relief Society is creating a monument at the visitors center in Nauvoo, Illinois, that will illustrate the various stewardships and responsibilities of women in a series of thirteen statues placed in a garden setting. As we understand, the monument is not only the largest commission of sculpture anywhere in the world this year, but it is also the largest monument ever constructed to women. Sister Florence Hansen, sculptor of two of the thirteen pieces, believes that the purpose of the monument is to “portray to the world the stand our Church takes concerning women; to honor women and their contributions to society; and to heighten women’s aspirations as they relate to each concept.”
Brother Dennis Smith, designer of the project and sculptor of the other eleven statues, hopes the monument will go beyond mere illustration of a woman’s roles to convey the universal qualities and concepts of womanhood to which all women can relate. The monument should evoke from its visitors a simple, sincere, and somewhat reserved sentiment rather than overworked sentimentality. With the exception of the heroic-sized central figure, the statues will be life-sized and placed on eye level so that viewers can relate face to face.
President Spencer W. Kimball has announced the desire of the Relief Society that the funds drive be completed by 17 March 1977, the anniversary of the creation of the Relief Society. Although the monument is to be funded chiefly through the voluntary contributions of the women of the Church, the president expressed his “hope that some of the brethren might feel inclined to make a contribution to this worthy project.” (See Ensign, Nov. 1976, p. 77.)
The monument is scheduled for dedication in March 1978. The sculpture is pictured here in its different stages of creation—from clay models to the finished bronze pieces.