Artist: Zan Wells
GJ: How were you contacted to create this piece?
ZW: I was very flattered when I was contacted by Gov. Riley, who told me that friends of his wanted to have a sculpture of him on Main Street, and if that took place, he would like for me to make it.
GJ: What is the inspiration for this piece?
ZW: The inspiration was an emphasis on education, which was the governor’s main interest throughout his life. As we know, he served as U.S. secretary of education. Reading to children is an important part to begin the education of a child. So, Riley is shown reading to two children.
GJ: What materials did you use to create the statue?
ZW: The sculpture is made in the usual way for me. A clay model, mold and bronze.
GJ: How long did it take to create? What was the creation process like?
ZW: Greenville-based artist Charles Pate Jr. worked with me on the sculpture. It took about a year from start to finish.
GJ: What is your favorite part of the piece and why?
ZW: My favorite part of the sculpture shows the importance of reading to children, which is what the governor wanted. I [also] love the fact that the sculpture is in such a prominent place on the grounds of the Peace Center.
GJ: When was it completed?
ZW: It was installed in 2019.
Located in front of the Peace Center, 300 S. Main St., Greenville.