More than 20 life-sized bronze statues tell and symbolize the children’s stories throughout the Pioneer Children’s Memorial. Renowned sculptors Robert and Stephanie Hunt, and Stan Watts worked for more than two years with dozens of support people to create the stunning statues that bring the children’s pioneer trek to life.
Artists and sculptors Roger and Stefanie Hunt were involved with the Pioneer Children’s Memorial from its inception, and created many of the statues in the memorial.
Roger’s love for art and sculpting began under the tutelage of his art-teacher father, and from his job in a bronze casting foundry while in high school. At the foundry, he worked with and learned from nationally-known artists, who became his mentors and friends — all of which led to his full-time sculpting job.
Stafanie’s love for the craft began when she met her future husband Roger while a student at Brigham Young University. That relationship led to employment at Wasatch Bronze in Lehi, Utah, where she developed her passion for sculpture. She has 30 years of sculpting experience.
Roger said, “We feel privileged to be part of the Pioneer Children’s Memorial. It is humbling to bring our skills and hearts to bear on such touching and sacred historical events which are so meaningful to us all.”
Sculpting bronze statues is a complex process. The statues are sculpted in clay on a metal frame first, and if life-sized, have to be formed in pieces. A wax mold is made of each piece, then painted with ten ceramic coatings that create an outer shell. It takes ten days for each coat to cure. Once cured, the wax is melted away, and the shell is dipped in bronze. The pieces are welded together and any damage caused by the process is fixed. The artist then details the statue to perfection.
“Each statue is unique and has its own individual touch,” said Hunt. “That is the attraction of bronzes.”
Utah native, Stan Watts, is a nationally-renowned bronze statue sculptor known for his work portraying the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and of the United States.
Early in his career, he was tutored by sculptor Dr. Arvard Fairbanks. Some of his notable work includes the bronze statue in front of the Nauvoo, Illinois Temple depicting Joseph Smith, Jr. and Hyrum Smith on horseback riding to Carthage Jail, and the George Washington bronze at the Freedom Foundation in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. He was commissioned with the Hunts to create bronze statues at the Pioneer Children’s Memorial.