Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Marshall Maynard Fredericks :: Two Bears, 1969

Location: Donald W. Reynolds Grand Hall Atrium

Marshall Fredericks was born in Rock Island, Illinois, in 1908. He attended the Cleveland Institute of Art and later studied in Sweden with Carl Milles, a protégé of Rodin. When Milles went to teach at Cranbook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Fredericks joined him there. He taught there for ten years. Fredericks soon became known for his monumental bronze sculptures, often with patriotic themes. His twenty-six foot tall Spirit of Detroit is a well-known local icon. Although he is best known for heroic public sculpture, generations of children know him for his whimsical animal sculptures, done in all sizes. In the Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids there are bronze baboons, frogs, and bears, including Two Bears, a six foot tall version of the pair of bears in our atrium. As he grew older, he delighted in making larger or smaller versions of some of his older work. When someone pointed out that the elementary school which his five children attended had no examples of his work, he made a three-foot tall version of Two Bears. In an interview appearing in the Spring 1998 issue of Scandinavian Review, he stated “…I want more than anything in the world to do sculpture which will have real meaning for other people, many people, and might in some way encourage, inspire or give them happiness.” Fredericks died in 1998 in Birmingham, Michigan. The definitive collection of his work is housed at the Marshall M. Fredericks Gallery at Saginaw Valley State University.