In February 2014, The Philadelphia Art Commission approved sculptor Stephen Layne’s design for a public statue honoring the late boxer Joe Frazier, to be installed at the Xfinity Live center in South Philadelphia.
Layne, adjunct faculty of Illustration at Moore, was selected to design the 12-foot bronze monument that depicts Frazier’s infamous knockdown of Muhammad Ali in the 15th round of 1971’s “Fight of the Century.” The former heavyweight champ, who made Philadelphia his home, died in 2011.
“He was a very iconic Philadelphia figure who did a whole lot for the city,” Layne said. “I think most people will resonate with that moment in his career. I chose that [for the design] because I knew that people would relate to it the most.”
The statue will be built beginning in January, 2014 and take about a year to complete.
Layne’s project has been the subject of a December article in The Philadelphia Inquirer and a recent Comcast SportsNet documentary, among other press.
Layne has done sculptures of boxers before, not for commission but as pieces he has shown in galleries in New York. He has received awards from the National Sculpture Society and Allied Artists of America.
“This all came to the attention of a local gallery in Philadelphia and they brought up my name to the committee to elect a sculptor to do this [Joe Frazier] project,” he said. “To be chosen for this honor is great. Generally I’m not a commissioned artist. I’m usually a gallery artist by choice, but when I heard of this project, this was one I really wanted.”
A recreational boxer in his early 20s, Layne has spent his whole life in Philadelphia.
He earned his BFA in Sculpture from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and has taught at PAFA and the University of the Arts.
He came to Moore this semester through a recommendation from a friend who used to teach at the College and thought he would be a good fit.
“I was told that Moore has a very strong Illustration department and that drew me to teaching here,” he said. “I teach life drawing. The students are outstanding and professional and it’s a very comfortable environment. I really like it here.”
To learn more about Stephen Layne visit his website at http://www.stephenlaynestudio.com/