The Fountain of Life Dedication Plaque

  • The Fountain of Life is a bronzeriot of ocean-going horses, putti, a mermaid and mer-man (who knew?) andcrustaceans rising above fountains that gush water into a double basin. Createdin 1905, it sits in front of the main building at the New York BotanicalGarden. In 2005, the hundredth-anniversary renovation called for a sign. Toavoid such an eyesore, our proposal was to repeat the bronze, installing a bookon the edge of the basin. The title is carved into the front cover: The LillianGoldman Fountain of Life.

    Andwho could resist making a title plaque for “The Fountain of Life”? For me, themetaphor of a book is a far-reaching one. A book, you know, is also afountain. As an occasional bookdesigner, it was particularly gratifying to create the sculpture myself. I hadto learn how to work with clay, and see it all the way through plaster casting,type carving, wax casting, bronze casting and patina. I could have simply casta book, but that process seemed to rob the idea of poetry. In fact, this bookwas modeled on an anthology of poetry I inherited from my mother, so the“Fountain of Life” idea is intrinsic in many ways.