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FDR Hope Memorial

posted Mar 31, 2011, 7:44 AM by Ava Dawson

For immediate release
March 30, 2011




Artist Meredith Bergmann Selected as Sculptor and Site Artist;

Initial design to be unveiled April 9


NEW YORK, NY — A sculpture of President Franklin D. Roosevelt seated in a wheelchair, interacting with a disabled child, is planned for Roosevelt Island in New York City.  The FDR Hope Memorial will be located at Southpoint Park, just south of the hospital where survivors of polio, the disease that disabled Roosevelt, benefited from the pioneering use of ventilators that freed them from the constraints of “iron lungs.”


The goal of the FDR Hope Memorial Committee (FDRHM), a sub-committee of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association, is to celebrate President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the inspiration for all who strive to overcome challenges.  According to the memorial’s mission statement, “Roosevelt Island was so named to reflect a commitment to an integrated community where the disabled move freely, live independently and develop to their fullest potential.  The FDR Hope Memorial will educate future generations about FDR and about Roosevelt Island, a vital community of ‘enabled’ residents.”


Jim Bates, President of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association, said the memorial will be “a place of comfort, hope, understanding and inspiration.”


Dr. Jack Resnick, internist on Roosevelt Island, notes that “Roosevelt spent much of his adult life in a wheelchair.  The polio virus, which infected him in 1921 at the age of 39, left him with almost no use of his legs.  Twelve years later, following a term as Governor of New York, he became President of the United States and went on to save the country from economic calamity, and the world from Hitler.”


Following a search, New York–based artist Meredith Bergmann was selected to design the FDR Hope Memorial.  Bergmann’s public works, such as Marian Anderson and the Boston Women's Memorial, address challenging topics with social concerns.  The committee believes her public art experience, her substantial research and thoughtful approach, and her potential to develop and communicate the mission of the FDR Hope Memorial will help to bring about a work of art that will inspire generations.

Bergmann notes that 
the nearby Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, designed in 1974 by architect Louis Kahn, and now under construction just to the south of the memorial’s future site, will include a portrait head of FDR.  “Four Freedoms Park will be both beautiful and contemplative, but because of its idiom and the era of its design it will not depict the human body, and the human body is an important part of our subject.  Until the 20th century, sculptors routinely turned to the human body when they wanted to evoke inspiration.  Here in the Hope Memorial we are not only allowed to use the human body to inspire, we are joyfully required to do so.


“For me, an artist who believes in the power of figurative sculpture to represent people as well as abstractions, it is inspiring to sculpt a leader who was so inspiring.  FDR never wanted his disability to have a place in his presidency, but he led our nation into some of the most important reforms ever enacted, reforms which allowed us as a community to benefit from what the vulnerable members of our community have to offer.”


Bergmann’s presentation of her concept for realizing FDRHM's mission in three dimensions was received by the committee with great enthusiasm.  The design will be presented publicly for the first time on Saturday, April 9, 6 PM to 7 PM at Gallery RIVAA, 529 Main Street, on Roosevelt Island.


Initial funding for the FDR Hope Memorial comes from a generous grant from theFranklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, a special project of the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.


For more information or to make a donation, visit fdrhopememorial.org



CONTACT: Marc Diamond, fdrhopememorial@gmail.com, for more information or to set up interviews:


Jim Bates, President, Roosevelt Island Disabled Association

Meredith Bergmann, Artist

Dr. Jack Resnick, Internist; advocate and practitioner of home care for the disabled

Nancy Brown, Vice President, Roosevelt Island Disabled Association, and polio survivor who was among the initial group of patients at Goldwater Hospital who were “mainstreamed” into specially designed accessible apartments within the new Roosevelt Island community when it began in the mid-1970s



PUBLIC PRESENTATION:  6 PM to 7 PM, Saturday, April 9, 2011, at RIVAA Gallery, 529 Main Street, Roosevelt Island.  Subway: F Train to Roosevelt Island; or Tram from 60th St. and 2nd Ave.