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Maiden Shield: Strength in Numbers

Artist: Catherine Bell Smith

Elements: Powder-coated aluminum, wood, sycamore bark, epoxy resin

Catherine Bell Smith is a Columbus artist.  She collaborates with nature to make her work by collecting, saving and preserving items that are raked, blown away or crushed under foot.  Bell Smith had been working on a series call “Maiden Shields” which is inspired by female Vikings, strong warrior women, when she was asked about creating a piece for Easton Town Center’s new district. Her Easton art installation is titled “Maiden Shield: Strength in Numbers” and is located adjacent to the west side of Crimson.  

Bell Smith says the piece is not necessarily about the individual woman, but women banding together and becoming stronger as a team.  The art uses natural materials including sycamore bark, which is a symbol of strength and power.  She says incorporating the sycamore bark into the piece carries on the theme of strength in women.  Bell Smith used aluminum to form pinecone scales on the installation.

If you touch Maiden Shield: Strength in Numbers, you will find it is covered by a layer of braille. “It’s a silent language which I think is what visual artists usually do,” said Bell Smith.  “We talk silently. It’s a visual language rather than spoken language. It’s just a way to add another layer to the piece and it’s subtle.  It’s quiet, but for me, it’s really important.”

The braille text is the following quote: “There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.” – Malala Yousafzai

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