A nine-foot bronze bust of Benjamin Franklin, commissioned by the city of Philadelphia and funded in part by its Fire Department, was dedicated on Oct. 5, 2007, in Girard Fountain Park at 4th and Arch Streets in Philadelphia's historic Old City neighborhood (map).
In 2003, the city arts office selected James Peniston to replace the much-loved but deteriorated Penny Franklin sculpture next to the Engine 8 firehouse. James proposed a monumental bronze bust of Benjamin Franklin that would be created with help from the community.
In 2005 and 2006, James visited 24 nearby elementary schools to talk to students about Franklin. He asked the pupils to bring old keys from home — and they responded by filling buckets with more than 1,000. Casts of the keys were incorporated into the surface of the piece, allowing a generation of Philly kids to point to the sculpture and say, "I helped make that!"
The Philadelphia Inquirer spotlighted the dedication of Keys To Community with two photos ("Cast as a Foremost Philadelphian," 6 Oct 07). (Read the photographer's blog post about getting the shots.) The Associated Press put out several photos as well (6 Oct 07).
Wondering how bronze casting works? Here's an animated Flash tutorial.
James is a co-founder and the arts director of Studio 34: Yoga - Healing - Arts, a center for wellness and community in West Philadelphia.
Here's a short video about the 2006 POST program that features James.
Send email to: james AT jepsculpture.com
Copyright © 2000-2012 James Peniston