Pomona Goddess Statue to Reside in Organic Farm
The goddess Pomona is taking up residence in the Pomona College Organic Farm. Ronald Lee Fleming ’63 commissioned the new marble statue, sculpted by noted artist Mark Mennin, as a reminder that Pomona isn’t just the neighboring city where the College was founded, but also the Roman goddess of orchards, gardens and fruit.
“I think that when I was a freshman, almost nobody in my class knew that Pomona was the goddess of the orchard,” says Fleming. “So the intent was to help the [students] understand who Pomona is, so we’d be more grounded in the classical connection to the College.”
Fleming had decided to commission a Pomona statue for an American Renaissance water garden he’s building adjacent to Bellevue House, a 1910 Colonial Revival mansion he restored in Newport, Rhode Island. Considering the goddess’s connection to the College, he doubled the order.
“The one for Pomona is carved from Carrara marble, which we actually quarried in Carrara, Italy. [We also] had the rough carving done over there, and then it was shipped back to the artists’ studio in Bethlehem, Connecticut,” says Fleming.
The 76-by-22-by-22-inch statue is anchored to a 28-by-28-inch green granite base, which is attached to a concrete foundation in the Organic Farm. Fleming suggested the location because of its obvious thematic relation to the goddess, but also because of the garden’s personal significance to his family. “My daughter, [Severine Fleming ‘04], worked very hard on that garden when she was an undergraduate. She tilled that land,” says Fleming. “It’s been a place of love and care by the student body.”
President David Oxtoby finds the location appropriate, as well. “It is particularly fitting that this statue of Pomona, goddess of the orchard, will be placed at the Organic Farm, where our students are engaged in the hands-on process of growing food,” says Oxtoby. “I'm delighted by this thoughtful and generous gift from Ron Fleming, which represents his commitment to bringing art to public places where it will engage the College community.”
Fleming, an urban planner, preservation and public art advocate, and author, heads the Townscape Institute, a nonprofit organization that’s worked with more than 100 communities to conserve and visually enhance towns through “townscape design.” He’s also kept strong ties to Pomona, which both his parents, plus a few cousins and uncles, attended. He commissioned and donated the Pomona goddess relief and the “Pomona” bronze bas-relief artworks in the Smith Campus Center atrium, and donated funds for James Turrell’s Skyspace. He also contributed the essay “Dusty Sage to Urban Oasis: Reflections on a Place” to the book Pomona College: Reflections on a Campus.