That Which Might Have Been, Birmingham 1963 - Phoenix, Arizona
N 33° 31.836 W 111° 59.529
12S E 407874 N 3710552
Quick Description: This is the pivotal work in this artist's career.
Location: Arizona, United States
Date Posted: 6/5/2010 3:13:49 AM
Waymark Code: WM8ZFV
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 8

Long Description:
Best known for bronze sculptures of female nudes in motion, this Arizona artist was inspired to create this work as a response to a senseless tragedy. In September 1963 a bomb exploded in a church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young girls. John Waddell received national recognition for his work titled, That Which Might Have Been, Birmingham, 1963. The idea behind this work was to portray the girls as they could have been, as adults. To express the senseless loss of potential they could have achieved in life. According to the Smithsonian Art Inventory, the group symbolizes the "unfulfilled maturity of the four black girls killed in the church bombing in Birmingham on Sept. 15, 1963. The total group implies nobility, perseverance, and hope." Which fits what I had heard in the past regarding this sculpture.

This work was set up at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Phoenix in 1969. A second casting was later dedicated in Birmingham. Again, according to the Smithsonian Art Inventory, "a second casting of the sculpture was intended to be placed in Birmingham, Alabama, but proved controversial for the depiction of the "girls" as nude women." This fits in with newspaper accounts I had read about in the past. This recasting now resides in the sculpture garden of the George Washington Carver Museum in Phoenix, Arizona

In the process of creating these sculptures Waddell began to shape the principle that would set the direction for his future works, that of “the beauty of individual differences.”

The statue grouping is set apart on top of a pool of water, each statue on its own short plinth. A series of benches surrounds the pool, allowing the viewer to sit and enjoy the work, to reflect on it. The statues are easily accessible from all directions. The statues appear to be in good shape.
TITLE: That Which Might Have Been, Birmingham 1963

ARTIST(S): John Waddell

DATE: 1964

MEDIUM: Sculpture: bronze with patina; Base: concrete and metal.


Direct Link to the Individual Listing in the Smithsonian Art Inventory: [Web Link]

First Unitarian Universalist Church of Phoenix, 4027 East Lincoln Drive, Phoenix, Arizona

Location for the first casting is correct. The second casting (originally for Birmingham, Alabama)resides at the George Washington Carver Museum, 415 E. Grant St., Phoenix, Arizona

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