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Monument Immortalizes Link Between Community House, Kids

Sculptor Chad Fisher, a former Moorestonian, is working on a life-size bronze monument that will be unveiled at next month's Autumn in Moorestown festival.

The legacy of the Moorestown Community House is, and will forever be, indelibly linked with children.

Moorestown’s youthful residents have crossed its threshold countless times for baby showers, dances, movie nights and swimming lessons, and in recent years, swarmed its front lawn for face painting and Easter egg hunts and scarecrow making.

Accomplished sculptor Chad Fisher, a former Moorestown resident, is in the process of immortalizing that legacy with a bronze sculpture, depicting five children holding hands and playing, which will be unveiled at Autumn in Moorestown next month.

By his own admission, Fisher has no special connection to the Community House. But he spent several of his formative years here, and maintains a small studio here as well—which he occupies when visiting his father, who lives in town—and has always admired the architectural beauty of the 86-year-old building.

“It’s the most recognizable building (in town). It’s a beautiful building,” he said. “It’s probably the nicest architecture on Main Street.”

Recognizing that, and appreciating Moorestown’s ongoing efforts to cultivate the arts, Fisher approached representatives of the Community House earlier this year with the idea of creating some sort of lasting monument tied to its history.

“It was a complete cold call,” said Haynes Hendrickson, a member of the board of trustees, who has been in close contact with Fisher throughout the process. “This was not, by any stretch, anything we were looking for.”

Initially, the plan was to create a small bust or statue of Victor Talking Machine Company founder and Community House patriarch Eldridge Johnson, Hendrickson said.

“But so many people, myself included, have some other attachment to the Community House. Whether they had swim lessons there … or an event there, that’s what it means to most people,” he said. In that spirit, they came up with the idea of crafting a sculpture depicting children “interacting with the Community House.”

“We felt like this is the best representation of what the Community House’s mission is,” Hendrickson said.

Since June, Fisher has been diligently at work in his Dillsburg, PA studio creating the life-size monument—which depicts five children holdings hands and playing—employing classical methods of sculpting most of his contemporaries no longer use.

After he graduated college, Fisher traveled the country and the world—Europe in particular—to learn the somewhat lost art of sculpting and monumenting.

Why monuments? Simply put, because “they’re awesome. It’s why we go to Europe,” he said. “It’s just like chocolate and vanilla ice cream. For whatever reason, this is the thing that motivates your soul … This is me. This is what centers me in my life.”

Fisher is hands-on every step of the way and does most of the work himself, with the exception of pouring the metal mold, which involves dumping molten metal into a large, heavy cast—clearly not a one-man job.

The finished product will bear a classic green patina and be permanently placed on the front lawn of the Community House.

Hendrickson said Fisher is doing the work pro bono, and the cost of the materials he’s using will be incorporated into the Commmunity House’s larger capital campaign. Supporters hope to raise the money to pay for the materials through the sale of 25 smaller replicas of the monument (also produced by hand by Fisher), at $2,500 apiece.

“From a person who’s not artistic, it is, to me, amazing,” Hendrickson said of the sculpture.

For Fisher, what makes monuments particularly special is their permanence.

“You can drop a stone, and it’ll break. You can poke a hole in a painting,” he said. “But bronze can last up to 3,500 years.”

For more information about Chad Fisher and to see examples of his work, visit http://www.fishersculpture.com.

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