Client: The Nina Simone Project
Location: Nina Simone Plaza, Tryon, NC, United States
Completion date: 2010
The Nina Simone Project
Tryon, North Carolina
Laran Bronze Foundry
An over life size bronze figure of jazz legend Nina Simone seated before a whimsical representation of piano keys, evoking her music. The sculpture is sited on a central plaza and a destination point across from the musical hall in which Ms. Simone gave an early historical performance to towns-folks. That site (the former musical hall) is now a nascent Nina Simone Museum.
The Nina Simone Project sought to bring awareness of Nina Simone and her contribution to music and activism. It also hoped to bring Tryon together in honoring their native artist and to effect community healing within the racially divided town. The sculpture has generated renewed interest in Tryon as a national and international tourist destination.
Although I was already familiar with Nina Simone as an activist, vocalist and musician, I researched her thoroughly and interviewed her daughter, Lisa, who posed for the enlargement in clay. After the enlargement was approved, I cast it in bronze.
Some of Nina Simone’s ashes, supplied to Zenos by her daughter Lisa, are encased in a bronze heart placed within the sculpture’s chest, literally “bringing her home”. The sculpture has received press attention and has been declared an historical destination by the state of North Carolina.