05 Jan Library has lost owl statue returned 43 years later

We’re much like you here at Big Statues, in that we love to read stories of festive cheer as Christmas Day looms. One story that particularly attracted our attention in recent days concerned a Rochester man who returned a small marble sculpture of an owl protecting its babies to the library from which he had borrowed it… almost 43 years ago.

In a tale that signals the sheer power of custom sculptures like those that we can create to an exceptional standard right here at Big Statues, 52-year old Scott Stewart found comfort in the library and its contents during his abuse-marked childhood in the early 1970s. The nine-year old would peruse items on the downtown library’s shelves, frequently borrowing art pieces to enjoy at home.

As Stewart remembered it: “The house I lived in was really horrendous and I wanted to surround it with the comfort of the library. I would always take things back, except this one piece. I felt like I couldn’t part with it.” He has described the statue’s depiction of an owl protecting its offspring as representing to him the efforts of his mother to care for him and his brother.

The sculpture may not have belonged to him, but Stewart nonetheless said that it was a source of strength and peace for him in turbulent times, adding: “I hung on to that thing and cherished it. I treated it like it was gold.”

Following Stewart’s emancipation as a minor at 13 years old, much of the remainder of his youth was spent in and out of Rochester foster homes. For years, he struggled to cope with his childhood abuse, but 43 years after he had borrowed the statue, he felt that its purpose had been fulfilled and that he could finally bring it back to its original home.

On Sunday morning, he entered Rochester Central Library to return the statue as an overdue item, reflecting: “I felt like after all these years I was finally able to close the door on that chapter. It was quite exhilarating.”

Naturally, Stewart was pardoned of his overdue fines, with the statue being welcomed back with open arms by the library – despite it no longer having a sculptures collection.

Ove Overmyer, communication associate for the Monroe County Library System, commented: “When we have a story like this it makes us pause and makes us appreciate what we do. He was looking for a symbol of comfort and he found it at the library.”

We can only agree with that here at Big Statues, and hope that our own custom sculptures can have a similarly powerful effect on those who view them.

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