Genius of Creative Energy

Hildreth Meière

Marble Mosaic set into Inlaid Marble

Genius of Creative Energy by Hildreth Meière

About this piece

Genius of Creative Energy by Hildreth Meière

The Genius of Creative Energy lies at the threshold of the Nebraska State Capitol. It depicts a man riding a cloud through the cosmos. In his right hand, the Genius of Creative Energy holds a handle. The top of the handle is out of frame, but in Hartley Burr Alexander‘s description, the Genius is brandishing a lightning bolt. Bolts cascade behind him and he holds reigns in his left hand. The reigns extend off the right of the Mosaic. Alexander noted in his description that the Genius is being propelled across the sky by an unseen force.

In the background of the mosaic lies the sun, moon, planets, and stars. The Genius of Creative Energy wields “lightnings ruling the four elements,” per Alexander.

The floor mosaics in the Nebraska State Capitol were painstakingly executed by Sunderland Brothers.

Large-scale mosaic was used, the tesserae being about ¾” square, of black marble and buff marble. Dr. Alexander determined the subjects for the panels and Miss Meière made the cartoons, the final ones being drawn at full-size, with a brush, on heavy paper. Some of the brush-drawn lines were thick in spots and thin in others—they were what the Japanese painter would call “living lines.” The patient workmen in de Paoli’s shop [in New York] chipped away at the little squares of marble until they could lay pieces on the lines and exactly reproduce them in the stone. The stones were pasted down onto…brown paper cartoons [which had been traced and reversed from Meière’s original designs] and then cut up for shipping to Lincoln. Out in the Capitol, they were laid [mosaic side] down in their grout, and—when the paper was removed—the pictures were there in their “living lines,” their buff and black squares exactly as they had been drawn with the brush on the heavy brown paper in Miss Meière’s studio.

Harry F. Cunningham, Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue Associates Architect

Source: International Hildreth Meière Association

About Hildreth Meière

Hildreth Meière

Hildreth Meière (me-AIR) was one of the greatest American muralists of the 20th century. She was a pioneer in her field and created a more modern approach to murals that differed from the academic traditions at the time. She blended several classic influences, including classic Greek vase painting, Byzantine Mosaics, and Native American beadwork into a style known as Art Deco.

Up until her death in 1961 she acknowledged the Nebraska State Capitol as her crowning achievement.

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