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Laura Lee Stay Bradshaw

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Laura Lee Stay Bradshaw

(California, 1958 - )

Laura Lee Stay Bradshaw is described by Dave Gagon in the Deseret News as a woman who sees herself as an individual who can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. It doesn't matter that she's a woman. "I am a sculptor, not a woman sculptor." And she has no patience with women who complain about their gender. "Get in and work" is her solution. Born and raised in Orange County, California, she came to Utah at the age of 19 to attend Brigham Young University. Her initial interest in art was inspired by her fifth-grade teacher when Laura Lee was 11. Her parents fostered this interest by enrolling her in private lessons. Attending BYU on a painting scholarship, she was introduced to a new medium, sculpture. This new medium was a challenge, but she loved it and never looked back. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from BYU in 1985 and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in 1990. She still resides in Utah. Laura Lee's large-scale works can be seen at the University of Utah Medical School in Salt Lake City, the School for the Deaf and Blind in Ogden, Heritage Park in Parowan, the town square in Monroe, Louisiana, and the Utah State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City. Smaller pieces are located at the Phillips Gallery in Salt Lake City, the Springville Museum of Art, the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City, and in the Utah Arts Council collection. Examples of her recent work can currently be seen at the Museum of Church History and Art as part of the Images of Women in Art exhibition. In March 1998, she will be part of a five-person show at the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah. Laura Lee is quoted as follows in the dedication ceremony program for her bronze sculpture of Martha Hughes Cannon, which is in the Utah State Capitol building in Salt Lake City: "As an artist, I have always felt that commemorative sculpture is not just about honoring a person but is about humanity. That these people we honor in sculptural form are of the best of humanity, representing the core of every person's individual striving. Through commemorative sculpture we, the viewers, are able to glimpse at our true nature and remember our sense of real being. " Martha Hughes Cannon indeed represents the best of humanity. As she stated in her letter to the Statue Commission, Laura Lee Stay Bradshaw chose to depict Martha Hughes Cannon as "a woman of inner resolve. . . . Proving nothing she stands alone. She holds no symbols such as books or scales. It is by her regal gesture that the viewer knows she is at peace and self assured." Martha Hughes Cannon was a remarkable woman. Among her accomplishments are being the first member of the state board of health which she also helped create, founding the first nursing school in Utah Territory, and being the first woman elected to a state senate in the United States. She was also a pioneer, a medical doctor, a prominent suffragist, the author of Utah's sanitation laws, and a successful mother. Her primary interest always was in public health issues. This interest was her motivation for the study of medicine and for her political career. Her concern began in childhood, when she was deeply disturbed by seeing how many mothers and their babies died each year. In 1880 on her 23rd birthday, Cannon received her medical degree from the University of Michigan. Feeling the need for further study, she continued studying medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Looking to the future, she enrolled at the National School of Elocution and Oratory at the same time, to improve her public speaking skills so she could lecture on public health. Upon her return to Utah, Martha Hughes Cannon worked as a medical doctor and later ran for the state senate and won. During her first month in office, she sponsored three public health bills, one of which created the State Board of Health and defined its duties. Cannon was selected as one of the first members of this new Board. Martha spent the last years of her life near her children in Los Angeles, working at the Graves Clinic and the General Hospital. Martha Hughes Cannon is described by Jean Bickmore White in the book Sister Saints, as a woman ". . . caught in conflicts between the romantic side of her nature and the hard realities of her life. She appears to have suffered some of the conflicts faced by women today, wanting to be loved and protected in the classic role of women and yet to express herself in a life and career of her own." Laura Lee Stay Bradshaw's sculpture of Martha Hughes Cannon was dedicated on July 24, 1996, in the Utah State Capitol Rotunda in Salt Lake City. In this work, we can see the ability of Laura Lee "to capture the spirit of life in her subjects."

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