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Arts & Life

Sculptor Of Dignity Talks Engineering

Chynna Lockett

The sculptor behind the Dignity statue near Chamberlain presented a talk on the engineering details about the project. The 50 foot tall statue of a Native American woman holding a star quilt was unveiled last September.

Dale Lampherea is a South Dakota artist laureate and sculptor the Dignity statue. He clicks through a series of photos projected a large screen in Rapid City’s Journey Museum.

“Here we’re building the foundation and footing and base for it. You can see how much steel is in there. The case ons go down 25 feet, 30 inches in diameter...”

Many images have people and model sculptures to help the audience comprehend the scale of its 50 foot status.

Lampherea says he used several Native American women as models for the sculpture’s face to create a timeless look.

“It wasn’t a specific individual but rather a representation of that culture that we were trying to celebrate.”

He says the start quilt around the woman’s shoulder is made of 64 blue diamond shapes welded into the structure. Lampherea says the diamonds were the last pieces to be installed. 

“We literally were welding at 10:00 at night, the night before the dedication.”

At night, Chamberlain’s ambient light makes the quilt glow. 

He says Dignity has received positive responses.

“Always, the reaction seems to be one of real respect and appreciation both of the beauty of the sculpture and the symbolism of what we’re representing there. We’re acknowledging and honoring the Native cultures that we have here in South Dakota and the Native peoples that live in this state. It’s something that we hope really brings about better relationships all around us as time goes by.”

Lampherea says this process involved 2 years of steady work. He says some detailing work is scheduled to resume on the piece in spring.