Nearly 300 works by famed sculptor Charles Parks are being donated to the state of Delaware by the sculptor and the Charles Cropper Parks Foundation. An official announcement of the donation was made recently during an event honoring Parks at Buena Vista in New Castle. Through his public, corporate, and private commissions, Parks established himself in the world of academic sculpture as a professional artist of the highest caliber.
“We are thrilled and honored that the state of Delaware will become the steward of Parks' awe-inspiring collection, both for its artistic and its cultural value,” said Gov. Jack Markell. “I look forward to the day when we begin showcasing Charles Parks' life work and telling his unique Delaware story.”
The donation is likely the largest collection of a major artist’s work ever given to the state. It includes 21 bronzes, 25 plasters, and 250 fiberglass works ranging in size from eight inches to nine feet. The collection comprises a range of pieces from various periods of Parks’ career.
Parks created more than 500 sculptures for individuals, public parks and plazas throughout Delaware and across the United States. The fiberglass models of these pieces are among the objects being donated to the state. They include portraits of former presidents, corporation founders and other public figures, as well as numerous portraits of children and adults from all walks of life.
For several years, Parks and his wife Inge have sought a permanent home for the sculptor’s private collection, which is currently at his studio at Bancroft Mills near Wilmington. The Charles Cropper Parks Foundation was established in 2001 to anticipate such a transition and to oversee the transfer of pieces. Details of the transfer will be worked out over the coming months. The state of Delaware’s intention is to display the works in public spaces on state properties.
While the foundation has received requests to permanently house the collection elsewhere, its officers decided that the collection should remain in Delaware, the lifetime home and studio location of Parks. It is where the majority of his work was commissioned, inspired and created.
Though born in Virginia, Parks has been a Delawarean since 1924 and attended the University of Delaware. To walk through his studio and view his collection is to take a stroll through decades of Delaware history from the civil rights struggle to the protection of Delaware’s environment.
“To have a nearly complete collection of an artist’s work is a rare and special thing,” said Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock, whose department will oversee the collection. “Mr. and Mrs. Parks and the foundation have given the people of Delaware a great gift which I am sure will serve to delight and inspire people for generations to come.”
For a bio of Charles Parks and more information about his work, go to www.charlesparks.com.