Sculptor tapped for memorial worked year already

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. – When the decision was made to commission an Alpharetta Veterans Memorial for the new City Center, the first order of business was to find the right artist for the job.

City Councilman Donald Mitchell said they could not be happier with their selection of Kevin Chambers.

Chambers is an Atlanta sculptor/artist who began formal training at the age of 12 and has studied in Italy. He won an apprenticeship under the renowned sculptor Martin Dawe at his Atlanta studio Cherrylion.

He has gone on to make or collaborate in a number of important works, such as the World Athletes Column featuring six 8-foot figures of Atlas atop a 35-foot column. It was commissioned by the Prince of Wales Foundation for Architecture for the Olympics and is on Peachtree Street in Atlanta.

He also did the sculpture for the entrance to the $600 million Avalon mixed-use project that opens in October in Alpharetta.

“When we contacted him, I think we knew almost immediately this was our guy,” said Mitchell. “We interviewed multiple sculptors, but Kevin’s talent was superior. But beyond that, he seemed to be the guy who really knew what we were after.”

William Perkins was part of the selection party, and he agreed.

“Kevin not only had a good bid, but he connected with the idea,” Perkins said.

What the selection committee was looking for was a moment in time, an image of soldiers caught in battle. Yet something that spoke to a larger statement about American veterans from all wars.

“We wanted the stance of men in battle. We wanted it to be emotional, so that you experience that moment with them – as opposed to just witnesses to it,” Mitchell said. “We want it to speak to not only veterans, but all of us.”

So Chambers’ vision came to two figures, each 7 feet and placed on a 2-foot pedestal. Chambers said he wanted it to remain in virtually human scale, so that it’s not only approachable by the public, but suggests the frailty of men in combat – nowhere to hide, just their comrades to rely on.

The sculpture will be entitled “The Defenders,” honoring all who served in defense of freedom.

“To be part of this is certainly an honor,” said Chambers at the dedication. “It’s been an incredible journey to get to this point. I can’t wait to cast the full-scale figures and see them come to life.”

The figures will be in bronze using the lost-wax method of casting. This is where a model of the sculpture is made of wax or some other resin and creates the mold for the molten bronze to be poured. When the mold is broken open, the wax mold is gone and the finished bronze remains.

It took more than a year of working on models to get the figures in their final form and win approval for the finished memorial.

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