Although the Burlington High School teacher has the holiday off, he is still hard at work. Local artist Chris Sharp has dedicated the last five years of his life to constructing the perfect statue of Martin Luther King Jr.
Several years ago, the New York Times and Washington Post announced the need for an artistic and respectful sculpture of Rev. King. After doing some research, Sharp was certain that he was the man for the job.
"I don't have to make just a single figure, because MLK is more than could be captured in a single figure," Sharp said.
Sharp decided to combine two portraits of King in order to represent his compassion and iconic "I Have a Dream" speech. In 2011, Sharp sent 17 brass sculptures to a wide range of locations across the nation, most notably the White House. The responses were nothing but positive. He explained that the schools were his favorite recipients, "I'll get an email every now and then from the art teacher or the librarian, and they'll take a picture with a bunch of kids in front of the sculpture and the kids are just so happy to be there."
Sharp has now set his eyes on a bigger goal-- a life-size sculpture of King.
"I went with the smaller versions so I could reach as many people as possible, but on the 50th anniversary I thought that this would be a great opportunity to rally support to make a large version," Sharp said.
By the spring of 2014, Sharp hopes to have completed and installed the life-size sculpture.
"I'd like to donate the sculpture to Birmingham, Alabama, from the people of Burlington, from the people of the United States, in commemoration of the 'I Have a Dream' speech, and in commemoration of the fact that our country has the power to change and make things better," Sharp said.
Although he paid for the individual sculptures himself, this larger project comes with higher costs. The sculpture will cost an estimated $160,000 and thousands of hours in manual labor.
"My hopes for the whole project is that this project will continue the legacy of learning about Dr. King and what he had to offer our country-- the changes that were important-- to what makes America what it is today," Sharp said.
With roughly $2,000 already raised and hundreds of emails and calls from supporters, he is hopeful that the project will happen on schedule.
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