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She's a civil rights icon you likely never heard of. Now her statue will be seen in Detroit

Self-taught sculptor Austen Brantley defines his art and reflects on creating a statue of Detroit Civil Rights Activist Viola Liuzzo at his studio. Kimberly P. Mitchell, Detroit Free Press

Austen Brantley - Gallery Walk Through

Austen Brantley is a inspiring and cultivating sculptor who expresses life through his fingers and exemplifies the meaning of self, beauty and life in the process.

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Young sculpting talent Austen Brantley

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July 24, 2019

Statue unveiling honors civil rights martyr Viola Liuzzo

Detroit — Sally Liuzzo seemed close to tears when she saw the statue of her late mother unveiled Tuesday.

"You know it's Mom," Liuzzo said after the ceremony honoring Viola Gregg Liuzzo in the northwest Detroit park named for the civil rights martyr who was slain in Alabama in 1965.

"Viola marched for people to have the right to live their best life," said Metro Detroit sculptor Austen Brantley, who made the statue. "Her life tells us that we should not be complacent but to take action in our community and our nation.

"Through her symbol, we have a North Star that shines so bright," he concluded, drawing "awwws" from the audience.

July 23, 2019

Detroit statue finds a barefoot, undaunted Viola Liuzzo walking again for civil rights Julie Hinds and Micah Walker, Detroit Free Press

Now the Detroit statue joins the highway marker in paying tribute to Liuzzo. The sculpture was created on commission by African-American sculptor Austen Brantley, 23, whose studio is in Royal Oak.

Brantley, who worked closely with Liuzzo's family to capture her spirit as well as her physical appearance, told the crowd at the unveiling that "her every stride speaks volumes about her character."

April 11, 2019

Self-taught Detroit sculptor shapes history with Viola Liuzzo statue

Inside his Royal Oak studio space, Austen Brantley talks about sculpting with the passion of someone who has found what he was meant to do in life.

"'With clay, I can say what I want to say and still make things that appear beautiful," he says. "That's more important than job security or material things."

As the 23-year-old artist speaks, he's standing near a work in progress that is expected to be unveiled sometime in late July.

It is sure to be newsworthy in Detroit. It deserves a worldwide audience.

February 19, 2018

Austen is a self-taught ceramic sculptor. His interesting pieces has captured attention, both local and statewide. Austen has completed over 500 sculptures and has hosted 13 solo exhibits since beginning his career in 2011. Chicago Natives and those interested can see Austen's work up close & personal at the Black Creativity Exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

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