Figure and Image, c. 1960<img alt="" src="/sites/GovernorsMansion/Exhibitions/PublishingImages/Art-of-Illinois/Sunderland-Figure-and-Image.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />Figure and Image, c. 1960<div class="ExternalClass8D54214E5012442082058FAE277779A9"><p></p><p>At nearly eight feet in height, Nita Sunderland's Figure and Image has the commanding presence of a regal figure abstracted to its basic com-ponents, including a crowned, flaring head and a rounded torso pierced by a series of openings that mimic spinal vertebrae. The artist has described the work's interlocked vertical forms as a "double figure"—perhaps suggesting a single body and its reflection.1 Erect, elegant, and stately, the slender welded bronze sculpture recalls the stylized ancient and medieval images of kings, queens, prelates, and warriors that have inspired Sunderland throughout her career, from royal tomb effigies to chess pieces. Indeed, Figure and Image is one of a suite of single and grouped vertical figures—Sunderland's favorite—from which she developed her "chess set" series of the early 1970s.</p><p>Growing up in rural Newton, Illinois, Sunderland wanted to create things even as a small child. She soon taught herself carpentry, and in school she lobbied to be allowed to take shop class with the boys, whom she helped with her superior welding skills. Sunderland studied art at Bradley University and taught at Mexico's University of Michoacán, later returning to Bradley as the university's first female professor of art. Throughout her career, Sunderland challenged prejudices against a woman's ability to create large-scale sculpture in difficult materials such as stone and metal. Mastering techniques of carving, welding, and casting, she created figural and abstract sculptures in a variety of materials, as well as making prints and drawings. Sunderland's public works of art are found throughout Illinois, including in Chicago and in Peoria, her longtime home.<br></p></div>GP0|#0f92c861-84ce-4d5a-ac5c-38fce980c15b;L0|#00f92c861-84ce-4d5a-ac5c-38fce980c15b|Nita K. Sunderland;GTSet|#6a9f5109-021d-478a-ae73-864102492159;GPP|#9d68cbd3-25f3-49f0-8924-6cbe6cdb2f21;GPP|#be65f490-4890-487c-bb16-c396d99511f7Art;#TemporarySculpture;#Sculpture Metal;#Newton, IllinoisBronze on plaster base, 94 × 10 × 6 inches Peoria Riverfront Museum Collection, Gift of Dr. Michael Luthy in memory of John and Armedia Totten