The Family

This essay of mine  originally appeared at the Broad Street Review. It’s about public art and personal loss. (With thanks to Inga Saffron and Timothy Duffield.)

“The Family,” by Timothy Duffield. (Photo by Christopher William Purdom /

The Family

I walked past 1835 Market Street one afternoon and saw the sculpture was gone.

It had been there since I moved to Philadelphia from Chicago in 2008, a tall bronze sculpture about a dozen feet high depicting the naked forms of a woman and man, arms stretched upward, holding aloft a young girl and boy.

I’d felt mildly shocked by their nudity, but I liked seeing them doing something wild and joyous together, and felt proud of the artist and the building’s owners for presenting those bare elbows, bellies, knees, and rear ends among the corporate towers. Their nakedness was brave, flaunting the capacity of the natural, daring body. Two adults working hard, literally lifting up the next generation, vulnerable to anything and everything under the sun.

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