The Spirit of Detroit

 Posted by on July 21, 2017
Jul 212017

2 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, Michigan

Spirit of Detroit

This stunning sculpture is the best-known piece of public art in Detroit.  It’s location and presentation was well thought out.

The backdrop was designed by the architectural firm of Harley, Ellington and Day, also responsible for the Veterans Memorial Building in Detroit.

The sculpture itself is by Detroit area sculptor Marshall Fredericks. Commissioned in 1955 for $58,000, the sculpture was dedicated in 1958.

The seated figure represents the spirit of humanity. In his left hand, he holds a gilt bronze sphere, with emanating rays, symbolizing God, in his right hand he holds a group of people embodying all human relationships.

Spirit of DetroitThe plaque in front of the sculpture says  “The artist expresses the concept that God, through the spirit of man is manifested in the family, the noblest human relationship.”

Along the back is the passage “Now the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty”.

The round reliefs are the seals of the City of Detroit and the County of Wayne.

Marshall Fredericks was born of Scandinavian heritage in Rock Island, Illinois on January 31, 1908. His family moved to Florida for a short time and then settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he grew up. He graduated from the Cleveland School of Art in 1930 and journeyed abroad on a fellowship to study with Carl Milles (1875–1955) in Sweden.

In 1932, he was invited by Carl Milles to join the staffs of Cranbrook Academy of Art and Cranbrook and Kingswood School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, teaching there until he enlisted in the armed forces in 1942.

There is now a Marshall Frederick’s Museum in Saginaw, Michigan.