Inside the Workshop: Statehouse Sculpture Reborn

By Adelle MacDowell

Since April, the golden dome in Montpelier has been bare. The statue of Ceres, goddess of agriculture, was removed because it was rotting from the inside.

For months, sculptor Chris Miller has been at work, creating a new statue to adorn the golden dome.

Inside his workshop in the Barre Granite Museum, Miller worked upwards of 1200 hours on the carving alone; working from 10 a.m. until 12 a.m. nearly every day this fall. The statue reflects his dedication, with finessed features, from the curve of her fingers around the scroll she holds to the folds in her dress.

Miller got into carving when he was seventeen and is largely self-taught. When he heard about this project, he put in a bid and was chosen for the job. 

The hardest aspect of the project, Miller says, is the sheer size of the statue, which stands fourteen feet and seven inches. “It was difficult to get at some spots,” he says.

Now there is once again a statue of Ceres on top of the statehouse, much more handsome and sturdy than the last. Miller looks back on the experience of creating the statue, saying “the most fun part was the carving itself. It’s just very pleasant, very relaxing.” 

He predicts that the Ceres he carved will last around 150 years. The honor of making a contribution to Vermont that will last far into future, Miller says, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

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