Spotlight On: “La Florida,” The Florida Artists Hall of Fame sculpture

by Tim Storhoff

Induction into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed upon creative individuals by the state of Florida. When three artists are inducted into the Hall of Fame on March 20, they will have a plaque in their honor added to the Florida Artists Hall of Fame Wall on the Plaza Level in the rotunda of the Capitol Building and receive a sculpture of La Florida by Florida sculptor Enzo Torcoletti.

Enzo Torcoletti with his most recent "La Florida" sculptures. Photo taken and used by permission of Tim Storhoff.

Enzo Torcoletti with his most recent “La Florida” sculptures. Photo taken by Tim Storhoff.

The state legislature established the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 1986 and sought someone to produce the award that would be given to inductees. The following year, Mr. Torcoletti was contacted about the project and began working on potential designs for the sculpture.

Enzo Torcoletti was born in Italy and began studying art there before moving to Canada. He received a B.A. in English literature in 1968 and a B.F.A. in sculpture and printmaking in 1969 from the University of Windsor. He then came to Florida to continue his studies, and in 1971 received his M.F.A. in sculpture from Florida State University. He then taught sculpture, drawing, and art history at Flagler College in St. Augustine for years, and is now an Emeritus Professor. For the last forty years, Enzo has actively produced sculptures for exhibits and commissions.  His work has been shown extensively and is included in numerous private and public collections in Florida, across the U.S., and abroad. He now splits his time between his homes in Florida and Tuscany.

When he was selected to make the sculpture that would be given to Florida Artists Hall of Fame inductees, he began making sketches followed by more in-depth drawings. In coming up with his concept, he decided that it should be something unique to Florida. He wanted it to be semi-abstract but incorporate the female form, because when Juan Ponce de León named the land he used the feminine word La Florida. The feminine form is also representative of the Muses that according to Greek myth provide inspiration for the arts.

A preliminary drawing for a sculpture by Enzo Torcoletti. Photo by Tim Storhoff.

A preliminary drawing for a sculpture by Enzo Torcoletti. Photo by Tim Storhoff.

"La Florida," the Florida Artists Hall of Fame sculpture by Enzo Torcoletti.

“La Florida,” the Florida Artists Hall of Fame sculpture by Enzo Torcoletti. Photo courtesy of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.

Enzo also wanted it to evoke the water and beaches associated with our state, so he chose to include elements of waves and to make it look partly like skeleton of a shell you might find after a storm. The spiral at the top of the sculpture, when viewed from above, is  like the eye of a storm during a hurricane. Enzo carved the initial model for the sculpture out of wax and then created a rubber mold before the final bronze casting using the lost-wax method. The base is made of Florida limestone resulting in a heavy and substantial award given to inductees. The original maquette prototype is on display in the Twenty-Second Floor Capitol Gallery in Tallahassee.

All of Florida’s artists contribute to our vibrant and diverse communities and show that this is a special place to live and work. We are pleased to honor those who have made the greatest contributions to the arts in Florida with this beautiful sculpture. The 2013 inductions to the Florida Artists Hall of Fame will take place during the Florida Heritage Month Awards on March 20. The award ceremony will take place in Tallahassee at Mission San Luis, Florida’s Apalachee-Spanish Living History Museum. This year’s Hall of Fame inductees include performer Gloria Estefan, singer/songwriter Frank Thomas, and painter Laura Woodward. This will make fifty-five artists who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since the first ceremony in 1987. Other awards to be presented at Mission San Luis include the Florida Folk Heritage Awards, the Secretary of State’s Historic Preservation Awards, and the Florida Book Awards. To learn more about Florida Heritage Month, please visit http://www.floridaheritagemonth.com.

To learn more about the lost-wax method of creating a bronze sculpture, check out this video from artist Brian Owens who used it to create the St. Augustine Foot Soldiers monument:

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