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Mill River sculptor makes W.E.B. Du Bois bust

(Photo credit: Erik Michael Callahan)

By Christopher McDermott

MILL RIVER — As south county continues to hold discussions and debates on how to remember W.E.B. Du Bois, a local sculptor has created a bust of Du Bois’ head and upper body, honoring the Great Barrington-born sociologist, historian and civil rights activist.

Michel Richard, a retired sociologist and sculptor now living in Mill River, said he thinks a local monument of some kind to Du Bois is long overdue, but he has hesitations about a full-size sculpture like that which has been proposed for the Mason Library in Great Barrington.

“I don’t like the idea of a full-sized figure … the reason being, number one: the expense. It’s incredibly expensive to cast a full-sized bronze figure,” Richard said. “Secondly, Du Bois is a cerebral figure; his body language is not that interesting.”

He added, “And thirdly, if you’ve seen life-size bronze sculptures in public places, they tend to attract tourists who want some sort of frivolous photo op. They’ll sit on the figure or hug it or stroke it in some way. It just attracts the wrong kind of attention.”

Instead, Richard has sculpted a bust crafted from 25 pounds of clay over a sub-structure of foam, heavy gage wire and plumbing. Now he’s looking for a foundry to cast it in New England.

For the rest of this story, pick up a copy of the Berkshire Record at a newsstand near you, or subscribe by calling (413) 528-5380 x. 29, or by emailing billing@berkshirerecord.net

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