A new exhibit of works by noted Wilmington sculptor Charles Parks (1922–2012) is now on display at the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries in Dover.
Planned and created by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the exhibit, Dealing in Symbols: Profundity and the Human Figure, features 13 of the more than 300 works that the artist donated to the state of Delaware in 2011. Except for one abstract work, all of the sculptures in the exhibit reveal Parks’ abiding interest in the realistic depiction of the human form, often in juxtaposition with animal forms.
Reflecting a deeply felt humanism, Parks noted, “Some children are so fragile and delicate, and have a kind of beauty, that seeing them is like a religious experience.”
In his sculpture, Parks attempted to capture that kind of beauty and its connections to nature and the spiritual realm. He hoped that his works would convey emotion and instill an appreciation for the aesthetic value of the subject matter in ways that allow viewers to create meanings in accord with their own needs and perceptions.
Commenting on his use of contemporary subject-matter, Parks noted, “The point is to create symbols that fill a spiritual need in one’s own time.”
Dealing in Symbols: Profundity and the Human Figure will be on display through mid-August 2013 at the First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries in the Delaware Public Archives building at 121 Duke of York St. in Dover. Operating hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday; and 1:30 to 4:40 p.m., Sunday.
Admission is free. For more information, call 302-744-5055.
Born in Onancock, Va. in 1922, Charles Cropper Parks moved to Delaware with his family as a young boy. After beginning his education at a one-room schoolhouse in Talleyville, he commenced his formal art training in the 10th grade. During World War II, Parks served in the Air Force and in 1942 married Inge Ruehl of Wilmington, an accomplished pianist. After the war, Parks' art education began in earnest with studies at the University of Delaware and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Over the course of a prolific 50-plus-year career, Parks created more than 500 sculptures for individuals, public parks and plazas throughout Delaware and across the United States. His numerous honors and awards include a Gold Medal for Exemplary Contributions to the Arts from the state of Delaware (1973), the Watrous Gold Medal from the National Academy of Design, the Meiselman Prize for Classical Sculpture from the National Sculpture Society, the Gold Medal from the National Sculpture Society Annual Exhibition and the Tiffany Foundation Award for Creative Sculpture.