Arts and Culture | Downtown
Scott Wise’s “Reverence” is a one and a half life-size sculpture dedicated to the veterans who served in the United States armed forces across all branches of service.
The idea for the project began in November 2004 with Wise’s friend Doug Weiland, who at the time was the county executive for Montgomery County. Aside from providing his input for the piece, Wieland mainly dealt with the financial aspect of the project.
Weiland wanted a piece that would represent all veterans who served in all the wars the U.S. took part in over the decades. He contacted Wise with his proposal and the two of them collaborated for about a month going over various aspects, ideas and concepts for the sculpture.
One particular aspect Wise enjoyed about the project was the intimacy. It was more of a one-on-one between Wieland and himself as opposed to dealing with a committee which isn’t necessarily critical, but can make the process somewhat difficult at times. “It’s a whole lot easier pleasing one person than twelve,” Wise said.
Wieland gave Wise the artistic freedom to create the piece. Wise began the project in late January 2005. The piece was sculpted in clay and was completed in May of the same year.
The piece was then sent to the Clarksville Foundry where the rubber mold was created in preparation for creating the bronze piece. Bronze is ideal for material in sculptures because it can weather the elements very well and the only considerable change that will occur over time is the color of the patina.
The bronze soldier was completed in October and presented on Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, 2005. Because Wise wanted to create a sculpture that paid respect to all veterans and not one particular branch of service, he designed the uniform in such a way it could not specifically identify any one particular branch. From first glance, it is clear the sculpture is a soldier kneeling, holding a helmet. However, a closer look reveals there is no rank, symbols, or patches with the exception of the American flag.
In choosing a model for the look of the sculpture, Wise used his fathers’ likeness as the basis for the piece. Wise’s father, Roy Wise, was a retired sergeant major who served in the Army with the 101st for 26 years.
Roy passed away on Dec. 24, 1984, when Scott was 18-years old. As a result, he had to work from various photos of his father to create the piece. For the months he worked on trying to capture his father’s likeness in clay, he sought the approval and critique of his mother, Betty Wise.
On one of the last visits Mrs. Wise made to offer her critique to her son, she cried after looking at some adjustments he made around the face. It was clear at that point he had captured his father’s likeness accurately.
Reverence stands as a reminder of all those who fell in battle to protect the freedoms Americans enjoy in this country and as a reminder to Wise of his father’s dedication and service.
by Wilson Mendez Jr.
Clarksville, TN 37040