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Stephen P. Thomas to discuss the career of Illinois Sculptor Lorado Taft

Tue Apr 14 19:00:00 2015

Co-editor to Speak on the Career of Illinois Sculptor Lorado Taft

Please join the McLean County Museum of History in welcoming Stephen P. Thomas, Chicago historian and co-editor of Lorado Taft: the Chicago Years, for a talk on Taft and his Chicago career on Tuesday, April 14 at 7:00 p.m. in the Governor Fifer Courtroom.

For residents of Illinois, the name Lorado Taft may or may not be readily recognizable—but a number of the renowned sculptor’s works most certainly are. Works of particular interest to those familiar with Central Illinois may be the Fountain of the Great Lakes (1913) situated outside the Art Institute of Chicago, the Alma Mater (1929) located on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), or even Bloomington’s own Trotter Memorial Fountain (1911) located in Wither’s Park on East Washington Street.

In his book, Lorado Taft: the Chicago Years (University of Illinois Press, 2014), author Allen Stuart Weller, addresses the most productive years of the sculptor’s prolific career. A native Illinoisan, Taft was born in Elmwood, IL in 1860 and received his education at UIUC. His skills as a sculptor were sought for numerous commissions in Chicago that greatly contributed to the city’s reputation as a center for public art and a symbol of the City Beautiful movement. Upon his return to Chicago in 1886 after three years of study in France, Taft opened a studio and began instructing at the Art Institute—a position he held for 21 years prior to his 30-year-long stint as head of the Midway Studios at the University of Chicago. Taft continued to create until the time of his death in October, 1936. Just three weeks prior to his passing, Taft traveled to Quincy, IL to attend a dedication of his sculpture commemorating the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858.

Bloomington born and East Peoria raised, Stephen P. Thomas is a graduate of UIUC, Harvard Law School, and the University of Chicago (U of C). In the years following his retirement from commercial law in 1999, Thomas completed his master’s in Liberal Arts at U of C in 2008—during which time he became active in the Chicago Literary Club and discovered his burgeoning interest in the artist Taft.
Lorado Taft: the Chicago Years by Allen Stuart Weller will be available for purchase at the price of $39.95 plus tax. A book signing by the co-editor will directly follow the program.

For more information about this program, please contact the Education Department via email at education@mchistory.org or by phone at 309-827-0428. Free parking will be available at the Lincoln Parking Deck located one block south of the Museum on Front Street.

Stephen P. Thomas to discuss the career of Illinois Sculptor Lorado Taft