The Monument

The artist and his wife with finished clay sculpture before shipping it to the foundry to be cast in bronze.

The bronze sculpture consists of a birch bark canoe and three human figures:

  • Man portaging a birch bark canoe from Lake Michigan
  • Woman, carrying their belongings
  • an Elder showing the way, literally and figuratively

Each figure is approximately ten-feet high, with the canoe reaching 20 feet in length. The birch bark canoe itself is at the center of focus as it is held aloft upon the shoulders of the portageur. Its significance to the monument reflects its significance to the Native Americans who crafted this beautiful light-weight vessel and used it to travel the waterways of the upper Great Lakes.

A 1/8th scale maquette (working model) was completed in 2013 and two casts in bronze were produced for local display. The remainder of the edition of 25 will be sold to individual fine art collectors. These small sculptures are available directly from the artist. From the maquette, full scale enlargements were produced in rigid foam, then clay was applied to the foam figures, and details sculpted in the clay. Much of this work was completed in a studio space donated in downtown Manitowoc by Steve Schinan. Once the sculpting was completed, molds were made and shipped to a fine art foundry in Oregon for bronze casting. After assembly, welding, and patina were done, the figures were shipped to the site for installation. Cast in bronze, the sculpture group weighs over three tons, with a patina customized to highlight the details of native clothing and canoe construction.

A volunteer board sought private funding and guided the overall project.


Woman Elder Young Man Portaging Canoe