This statue stands outside the Kelly Library at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto. It was unveiled on June 6th 1973 and was made of plastic and fibreglass, but a few years later was sent to Italy to be bronzed. As stated in an earlier post , McElcheran (1927-1999) was born in Hamilton and as a young man received a scholarship to attend the Ontario College of Art. In 1948 he graduated at the top of his class and was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal.
There is a good deal of symbolism in this piece. St. Michael’s website quotes Professor Edward Synan from a 1973 issue of the U of T bulletin:
“There are people outside and inside the Library, all of them gratifyingly different. … Some hurry by and will never go in. … Some will go in, but why hurry? Stand around and talk awhile. After you are in, ideas, facts, perspectives, are all hard to come by. On side of Bill’s sculpture says this and much more.
“The other side in this artist’s report on the inside of our Library… (he) has reached the people whose books guarantee them survival. … Bill has put in conversation men and women who met only in libraries and in the intellects of those who use them. … Not all the figures are historic — at least not yet. Look carefully and — who knows? — you may find yourself.
Synan also observed that the head of Jesus can be seen on the side of the statue facing the street. Synan said McElcheran was trying to show that Christ “overhears the talk of those waiting outside the library and that He can like what He hears. Knowledge is what a library is all about and it means hard work so a lot of struggle goes on, for first you must get in.”
Photos by Shaun Merritt