Behind the clay: First sculpture depicting woman coming to the K - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Behind the clay: First sculpture depicting woman coming to the Kentucky Capitol

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- Adding layer after layer of clay, sculptor Amanda Matthews works to get the details just right under the watchful eye of Nettie Depp.

The Bullitt County native is crafting a life-size statue of Depp, a pioneer in education in Barren County in the early 1900s.

"She was elected to superintendent of schools seven years before the ratification of the 19th amendment," said Matthews, owner of Prometheus Art Bronze Foundry and Metal Fabrication.

A trailblazer in her field, Depp is now leading the way once again by becoming the first woman honored with a statue at the Kentucky state capitol.

"Hopefully they see that there are a lot of unsung heroes who deserve a lot of credit for getting us to the point where we are now," said Matthews.

While the work on the actual sculpture is just beginning, it's been a long process to get the piece to this point. Back in 2014, Matthews read an article about women honored in Kentucky, or the lack there of.

"In that article it said that the only woman honored on state or government land, public land in Kentucky was Carolina there in Louisville, which is general Castleman's horse," said Matthews.

That didn't sit well with Matthews who started the three-year battle to get a woman recognized in bronze. Who that woman would be wasn't up to Matthews, but a committee ended up picking Depp, who happens to be her distant relative. Years of meetings and debate ended with the approval of the project last year. It's a timely decision as women's issues are once again at the forefront of history.

"I think it's purely coincidence, because back in 2014 none of the current movements were really a hashtag yet," said Matthews.

Working in her Lexington studio, Matthews still has a lot to do on Depp. Once the six-foot-tall statue is finished Depp will join another prominent Kentuckian at the state capitol: Colonel Sanders.

"She should be right there next to him and definitely part of the tour that's given. That was very important to us," said Matthews.

A tour that's given to tens of thousands of school children every year.

"Young girls will see that they should set their sites very high and they can do anything and young boys will see that's acceptable," said Matthews.

Matthews hopes to have the statue installed by this summer. 

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