Stella Elkins Tyler A Legacy Born of Bronze

Image of Stella Tyler Exhibit

Stella Elkins Tyler A Legacy Born of Bronze
September 1-November 20, 2004

Catalogue available at Hicks (Excerpt). 80 pp., 8 ½ x 11, 72 color illustrations, appendix about the author and exhibition director. For information, please call 215-504-8531.

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Bucks County Community College, we are proud to present a major exhibition of sculpture by Stella Elkins Tyler. This show was curated by Fran Orlando and is accompanied by a full-color catalogue authored by Dr. Roberta A. Mayer.

Bucks County Community College was founded in 1964 on the former estate of George and Stella Elkins Tyler, a property in Newtown, Pennsylvania, of grand architectural designs and formal gardens. At that time, many of Stella Tyler’s bronze sculptures remained on the site and thus became part of the College’s art collection.

Tyler was almost fifty years old when she began to work as a serious sculptor in the early 1930s. Her mentor was Boris Blai, a former student of the famous French sculptor, Auguste Rodin. She had her first solo exhibition of sculpture at the Grand Central Art Galleries in New York City in 1935. In 1959, the Woodmere Art Gallery in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, hosted her third and last such show. Over the course of these two-and-a-half decades, she displayed approximately one-hundred-and-fifty different sculptural designs, most relatively small, but some close to life-size. Eventually, she had nearly all of her compositions cast into bronze by the Roman Bronze Works, a major foundry located in Corona, New York. The vast majority of her bronzes are one of a kind.

The exhibition takes place at the College from September 1-November 20, 2004, and is spread across the campus in three different venues.  A collection of both small and large bronzes, some privately owned, is on view at the Hicks Art Center Gallery. Tyler’s large outdoor bronzes owned by the College are on permanent display in the gardens and in front of the Gateway Center. At the Library, the process of making bronze sculpture is presented in the context of Timeless Offerings, a contemporary piece done as an homage to Tyler.  Also on view in the Library are several of Tyler’s plaster models, together with some fascinating primary documents that were discovered during the research process

Tyler had always had strong connections to the cultural life of Philadelphia and New York, and, as an heiress of Gilded-Age fortune, she also had the means to pursue her interests.  It was, however, not until after she began to create sculpture that she thought about becoming a philanthropist.  Ultimately, Tyler donated two of her estates with the intention of creating educational institutions.  In 1935, her first home in Elkins Park, known as Georgian Terrace, became the Stella Elkins Tyler School of Fine Arts of Temple University.  Upon her death, her second home in Newtown, christened Indian Council Rock, was willed to Temple University.  This property was quickly sold and laid the foundations for the opening of Bucks County Community College in 1964.  The purpose and pleasure that Tyler found in her sculpture has had its most powerful legacy in the tens of thousands of students who have been able to discover their own creative abilities as a result of her generosity.  And that   

The Stella Elkins Tyler: A Legacy Born of Bronze exhibition and catalogue have been supported by grants from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Additional support was provided by the Bucks County Community College Committee on Cultural Programming and the Bucks County Community College Foundation.

Image of Stella Tyler Exhibit