Friday, April 6, 2012

Mary Elizabeth Cook, Sculptor, 1550 Clifton Avenue

The 1940 Census data was released this week, providing lots of new information on past residents of Woodland Park. One of them is Mary Cook, also known as May. She lived at 1550 Clifton Avenue in 1940.

William M. Cook, great-nephew of the artist provided the following information about Mary in November 2004: "Our family has her actual birth-date as December 31, 1863. Some published material shows 1864. She was born in Chillicothe, Ohio with the name of Mary Elizabeth Cook, but later (date unknown) began using May instead of Mary.

She is probably most known for her creation of the "Peter Pan" figure atop the fountain in front of the Columbus Public Library. She also created bronze bas-relief sculptures of Rutherford B. Hayes, Warren G. Harding, James Garfield, and others, on display in the main corridor of the Ohio Supreme Court Building, Columbus, Ohio.

In 1918, she enlisted in the Army's Women Volunteers and became involved with the rehabilitation of soldiers with facial injuries from WWI. She developed a method of creating a ceramic mask of the injured face and then developed models for the surgeons to work by to do the reconstructive surgery.

Her involvement went far beyond the mere technical aspects of the work. For example, she devised ways to get the patients involved in making pottery and other ceramics to assist them in their rehabilitation. Much of the work was done at her own expense and she was never repaid by the US Government.

In 1943, she was injured in a fall from a scaffold and spent much of the remaining years hospitalized until she died in 1951 at age 87."

Peter Falk's Who Was Who In American Art has this to say, "A sculptor, lithographer and designer for Roseville Pottery in Zanesville, Ohio, May Cook studied in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Academy Colarossi. She was a member of the National Sculpture Society, the American Ceramic Society and the National Art Club. Exhibition venues included the Paris Salon where she was recognized for the 600 life masks she did during World War I for facial reconstruction of injured soldiers. She created Art Deco sculptural reliefs in the 1930s for public buildings. "

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