Sculpture representing each branch of armed services set to open May 1

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 24, 2012

By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — A Virginia sculptor recently put the finishing touches on her works of art for a planned veterans’ memorial concourse at City Park.
Sue Landerman, who stayed in Rowan County for seven months while working on a few different projects, created six brick sculptures for the memorial representing each branch of the armed services.
While in Salisbury, she also completed sculptures for a meditation space at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
The Salisbury Rotary Club is sponsoring the City Park memorial. Charles Taylor, owner of Taylor Clay Products, is a member of the club and recommended Landerman, who worked on several projects using material from Taylor Clay.
Landerman’s works are done in a relief style, so that the figures look like they’re emerging from the two brick walls that display them.
“I think they’re fantastic,” said project organizer Reid Leonard. “It adds another dimension to the whole area, as far as the concourse is concerned.”
Leonard and Seamus Donaldson, both Rotary members, helped plan and design the concourse, which is set to open to the public on May 1.
It will include six flags from the different military branches surrounding an American flag, a walking path, night lighting and a gazebo.
A brick wall will display the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, part of the Declaration of Independence, a portion of the Gettysburg Address and the pledge of allegiance. Plaques will show the names of donors who gave $1,000 or more.
“It’s going to be phenomenal,” Landerman said. “It’s a beautiful place to honor our veterans.”
Her Army piece depicts the D-Day invasion on the beach of Normandy. Landerman said that was the “most humbling one” for her to create.
“These young boys, there were 29 of them in the mural,” Landerman said. “Giving each one of them a face, it’s almost as if I got acquainted with them and thought about what their destiny was. … It’s like I brought them to life only for them to die.”
The Air Force sculpture shows a jet fighter flying over Vietnam, and the Navy sculpture depicts a lone sailor with the tall ship Constitution behind him.
Landerman also sculpted the Coast Guard ramming a German submarine off the East Coast of the United States, Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima and a Merchant Marines vessel in a Japanese harbor.
Woman at the well
Landerman’s “Woman at the Well with Christ” sculpture was unveiled at Sacred Heart Catholic Church earlier this month.
In the Bible, she said, Jesus Christ meets a woman who is alone at a well fetching water. She has never met him, but he knows exactly who she is, what she has done and why the rest of the townspeople avoid her.
Landerman said she felt an outpouring of emotion while carving when she finally “found” the look of astonishment on the woman’s face.
“She had unconditional love, and she was forgiven,” Landerman said. “It was powerfully moving to me.”
She said her sculptures of Christ always include the hands of her father and butterflies on his robe in memory of her daughter, who died at age 26.
To create the sculptures, Landerman stacked unfired bricks from Taylor Clay against an easel, etched her designs into them and used carving tools to cut into the hard clay.
The finished bricks were numbered, dried, fired in a kiln and sent over to the job site. Landerman said brick masons Donald Morton and Johnny Craig then “put the puzzle back together after I made it.”
Landerman said she came to Salisbury in August of last year and left last weekend. Local residents — David and Libba Willingham, Douglas Loeblein and family and Dianne Scott — offered their homes to her while she stayed in town to work on the projects.
“I want to comment on the very warm reception I have received in Salisbury,” she said in an email to the Post. “So many friendly, generous and warm folks. Opening their homes to me as if family.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.