The symbols of Rock Hill are the five Civitas statues, installed in 1991 at the Gateway corridor on Dave Lyle Boulevard. Looking at them you instantly feel a sense of mystery. The symbolism inlaid into their design is direct. One holds gears, another flames. Each stands for some aspect of the cities economy. This is not the simple and commonplace type of modern art that most cities contain. This is something special. So it is no surprise that over the years legends have arisen surrounding the statues.
Upon the erection of these monuments, the religious leaders of the town were outraged. They came brandishing their torches, pitchforks and set out to remove unsightly protuberances from Civitas’ bosom. Her nipples offended and were seen to be simply unacceptable. Climbing ladders these preachers took it upon themselves to make Civitas more acceptable to the people of Rock Hill.
Of course, as soon as I heard this story I set out to see these statues for myself. I had to see and verify that these statues had indeed been defiled, pun intended, for being too sexy for the elders to handle. It struck me as very odd though that none of these statues showed any signs of being altered. Furthermore, absolutely no sources existed to verify these claims other than the word of a few individuals. No newspaper happened to write about the great nipple grinding of 91.
Luckily that isn’t where this story ends. I had thought that it was all a fabrication and one that I completely understood. The Civitas Statues seethe mystery. The ancient features and deep symbolism would create their own enigmas even if none existed. It was then that I received an email from Audrey Flack herself.
I am so glad you love the statues! I do too. As for the truth of the story….Yes but partially. I was the one who had to alter the beautifully elevated nipples of my Civitas statues after I was warned that there would be trouble by certain preachers. I gently filed them down at the foundry and re-patinated them. I still think the goddesses look beautiful with their diaphanous drapes and perhaps even more sexy.
So, while no actual preachers stormed through the streets to remove them. A seed of truth could be found. The story was not without a fragment of fact. I am very grateful to Audrey for finally laying this mystery to rest.