A New Exhibit Features Drawings by the Sculptor Behind ‘The Spirit of Detroit’

Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum explores the conservation process in its latest virtual exhibition
Marshall M. Fredericks
The drawing above, by sculptor Marshall M. Fredericks, shows before and after the conservation process. // Image courtesy of Marshall M. Fredericks Museum

Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum is bringing a look at the conservation process to the masses with its latest virtual exhibit. On Jan. 16, the Saginaw Valley State University-based museum is unveiling Form Foundations: Figure Studies by Marshall M. Fredericks.

The exhibition, which runs through March 27, features 25 newly conserved figure study drawings by Marshall M. Fredericks. The 20th-century sculptor lived in Birmingham with his wife, Rosalind, until his death in 1998, and his well-known work includes “The Spirit of Detroit,” the “Cleveland War Memorial: Fountain of Eternal Life,” and “The Expanding Universe Fountain” in Washington, D.C.

Conserved by the Midwest Art Conservation Center, the drawings in the exhibit focus on the human form. Form Foundations explores the center’s process by showing before and after photos of the drawings. A 360-degree view of Fredericks’ figure study sculptures, a look at his drawing table, and other interactive elements are also available to visitors. 

Marshall M. Fredericks
Image courtesy of Marshall M. Fredericks Museum

The exhibit has come to life, in part, through a National Endowment for the Humanities grant the museum received in 2010. As part of the grant, the museum was tasked with identifying specific drawings from its collection most in need of conservation.

“Out of 129 drawings, these 25 were selected as the best representative studies for many of the artist’s figurative sculptures,” says Megan McAdow, director of the museum, in a press release. “They also illustrate Fredericks’s creative process of sculpture making and offer an essential record of his human figure design.”

Along with guided virtual tours and field trips, the museum is hosting a lineup of online events to mark the opening of the exhibit. At 7 p.m. on Jan. 21, conservator Liz Sorokin, who worked on Frederick’s drawings, will lead a free one-hour presentation on the art conservation process. Then, at 11 a.m. on Jan. 30, artist Armin Mersmann will share his work, art philosophy, and drawing techniques in a free, virtual event called Why Draw? Finally, award-winning artist Valerie Mann will teach a virtual figure drawing workshop with a nude model from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 13. 

For more information, visit marshallfredericks.org.