Platform Art, Inc. and the Florida Veterans Council are producing a monument to recognize the Spanish-American War and Lakeland’s unique role within it. The Friends of Freedom monument, a bronze sculpture with a base faceted in high-relief visual narrative scenes, will stand in Veterans’ Memorial Park when complete. The Spanish-American War is the only military conflict not yet recognized in the park. There are few monuments to the war anywhere in the country, and fewer still to the Buffalo Soldiers who led the successful American campaign for the Cuban War for Independence. But Lakeland lays claim to a piece of this overlooked history, as hundreds of soldiers were stationed here on their way to Cuba.
Artist Becky Ault of Art Research Enterprises, Inc. has drafted sketches and created a remarkable sculpted model for the monument’s design. The panel scenes of the bronze pedestal monument will be designed by Polk County high school student artists, a Platform Art signature public art program. We are committed to giving young artists unique opportunities to participate in design concepts for public art pieces through workshops and critiques with professional artists. The young artists, whose designs are selected for the public art work, will interact directly with Ault and her team of professional artists during the fabrication process at her studio, learning clay sculpting and bronze techniques.
To complement the public artwork, we are producing a documentary film, A Splendid Little War; and a Salon speaker series, Visual Narratives of History & Heritage. The salon-style speaker events will feature regional historians and subject experts, with an historical perspective on Cuba’s War for Independence and the Buffalo Soldiers. Join us in January, May, and August for these events!