Michelangelo believed that it was his job to release what was trapped inside the stone. “I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.” Clearly he did that with The David. The 4 unfinished Prisoners which line the walls before the tourist reaches the David, show his work in process. Years ago, waiting to see the David, I turned the corner and almost ran ran into the larger than life first Prisoner. Instantly, I burst into tears. It felt like I was watching a man in the process of fighting for his life and I could sense the power of his desperation to be free.
Michelangelo also said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” As I gazed at the magnificent but nearly finished image of Martin Luther King emerging from the stone, I also wept–but for a different reason. Dr. King didn’t seem trapped but rather completely formed and with a passion and power that surges out of his image.
Two individuals emerging from solid blocks of stone: Michelangelo’s Prisoner in agony and trapped, desperate to get out– Martin Luther King, on the other hand, no longer trapped exploding with determination to stand for what he believes in. It is certain that he will never give up, in spite of the formidable forces trying to hold him back. Clearly, he has unfinished business.
Two powerful images from centuries apart. I have never cried at the sight of any other statue, including The David. Thank you to Master Lei Yixin and his partners for creating this stunning, unforgettable masterpiece, called so appropriately “The Stone of Hope.”