What do Edgar Allan Poe and Bill Russell Have in Common?

My answer to the title question: Both have statues created by women artists in Boston: Poe by Steff Rocknak and Russell by Ann Hirsch. The dedicated, thorough approach of each artist to her subject links both stories of how their artworks came to be.

Bill Russell Legacy Project by Ann Hirsch, completed 2015

“The Bill Russell Legacy project is dedicated to the great Celtics champion, human rights activist and national mentorship leader, Bill Russell. Russell’s adaptation of lessons learned on the court of basketball into a philosophy for civic engagement, mentorship and compassion are central to the work. Here concepts derived from basketball are translated through the structure of the artwork which is experienced through a process of physical exploration and interaction. There are ten granite plinths each featuring a key word and a corresponding quotation to illuminate the myriad accomplishments spanning Mr. Russell’s career both on and off the court.” ( quoted from Ann Hirsch Sculpture Studio, description of project,  additionally quoted in captions )

Poe Returning to Boston by Stefanie Rocknak, completed 2014

Poe’s relationship with his birthplace was turbulent, since his dark literary style was often criticized by the Boston elite, whom he ridiculed in turn. Yet, Rocknak says that Poe loved aspects of Boston, “namely, that he was born there and his mother had a fairly successful career as an actress there.” Rocknak’s winning design shows Poe running along at the intersection of Boylston and Charles streets near the Common, heralded by his trademark raven and leaving a trail of fluttering manuscripts and a pulsing heart in his wake, “moving away from the stuff he doesn’t like about Boston… to what he loved.”  (quoted from article by Olivia J Kiers for Art New England, additionally quoted in captions )


Both artists’ websites have more dramatic and detailed images of the art. Both articles from the Boston Globe suggest the complex concerns in creating public art. 

“Edgar Allan Poe immortalized in the city he loathed,” by M.G.LeeThe Boston Globe article October 5, 2014

Rocknak Sculpture: Poe Returning to Boston 

“Bringing a Legend to Life: Sculptor Stefanie Rocknak returns Poe to Boston,” by Olivia J. Kiers, Art New England, October 30, 2015

About the Artist: Steff Rocknak

“Sculpting Bill Russell was labor of love for Ann Hirsch” by Baxter Holmes, The Boston Globe, October 23, 2013 ( a highly engaging story!)

Ann Hirsch Studio, Public Art



  1. Sharon McBride · · Reply

    Thanks, Deb. This is really interesting. I’ve lived in the Boston area for many years, but it’s always fun to learn something new!


  2. I loved seeing that Poe statue this summer,and glad it found its way onto your most recent art outdoors post!! .Next time in Boston,hope to see Bill Russell.What a nice juxtaposition! Btw,How does an interested reader of this post actually find these statues on the ground? Is there a gps designation for the smart phone ,or plain old-fashioned address?


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