Willa Cather as Creator: Breaking the Mold and Carving a Place in History
15 Laban Ainsworth Way
Jaffrey, NH 42544
As part of Cather’s 150th commemoration and Jaffrey’s 250th celebration, executive director Ashley Olson and Cather sculptor Littleton Alston will speak on “Willa Cather as Creator: Breaking the Mold and Carving a Place in History” on Friday, August 11 at The Amos Fortune Forum.
Held annually at the Jaffrey Meetinghouse since 1947, the Forum is a summer tradition with a fascinating history, offering six lectures from luminaries, writers, and scholars with ties to the Monadnock region. The event is free to the public and will also be livestreamed and archived on the Forum’s YouTube channel.
This lecture will discuss Cather’s ascent to success, from her rebellious nature as an adolescent to her prominence as a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Near Cather’s final resting place in Jaffrey, Alston and Olson will discuss their collective efforts to advance her legacy. Guests will also learn about the research and creativity that was essential in order for Alston to take a look back and sculpt Cather as a mature artist in the prime of her career. His bronze sculpture of Cather was installed in the U.S. Capitol on June 7, 2023, representing the State of Nebraska in the National Statuary Hall Collection.
Littleton Alston is Professor of Sculpture at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, where he maintains his sculpture studio. His artwork ranges from classically sculpted cast bronze figures to monumental abstract sculptures made of stainless steel. His works are included in many public and private collections and have been exhibited nationally and internationally. Littleton was featured in the 2021 Nebraska Public Media documentary film A Sculpted Life and a 2022 PBS News Hour interview. He has held artist residencies at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, the Martine Vaugel Studio in France, and the International Centre for the Arts in Montecastello di Vibio, Italy. Littleton earned a B.F.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and an M.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Rinehart School of Sculpture in Baltimore.
Ashley Olson is Executive Director of the National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud, Nebraska, where she guides the mission of the organization and oversees all aspects of its operation. Olson administers the museum, arts center, ten historic sites, and a 612-acre native prairie that make up the largest collection of nationally designated historic sites dedicated to an American author. During her tenure, the Center’s assets have grown by more than $13 million, and Willa Cather’s story has been more comprehensively told through a permanent exhibit, American Bittersweet: The Life and Writing of Willa Cather, funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Recently, Olson secured a Save America’s Treasures grant from the National Park Service for the restoration of the Willa Cather Childhood Home, a National Historic Landmark. She earned a master's degree in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.