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Public Art a Private Passion

Artist Cheryl Foster will depict historic figures at Darnestown Heritage Park.

Prolific public artist Cheryl Foster has set to work on a quiet but exciting new project in .

The “pocket” park, tucked near the corner of Seneca and Darnestown roads, is planned as a historic educational and garden space for the community, with her sculptures as centerpieces.  

With more than 20 years of experience, Foster, a native Washingtonian now living in Temple Hills, Md., specializes in large-scale, multimedia public art.

Among her works is “Maryland Treasures,” a brass and copper grate at National Harbor honoring Prince George’s County equine father and son, Triple Crown winners Gallant Fox and Omaha, and “Maryland’s Bounty,” with stained-glass mosaics depicting life along Maryland waters, from a boatwright to Maryland blue crabs.

As part of $720,000 in upgrades at Darnestown Heritage Park, Foster will do six friezes, two columns and a statue.

At the entry, there are two short columns that will have sculptural elements referencing two champion trees nearby. In addition, in the pergola, there will be six columns using Emmitsburg stone, each about 7 feet to 10 feet tall.

“I have figures in relief emerging out of the columns themselves,” Foster said.

The six figures will be:

• A Native American holding a child

• William Darne, the namesake of the area who is believed to be buried with his family at the grave site in the park

• A tobacco picker who is a female African-American slave

• A stagecoach driver

• A school teacher

• A miller and stalks of wheat, because the town ground wheat and corn for the entire area

Foster is finishing up the original eight sculptures in her studio. She will also create a life-size statue of a soldier for the rear of the park.

Foster became involved in Darnestown Heritage Park through the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County.

“I am quite interested in projects that require me to do research in an area. This was right in my backyard, and I found that there was quite a bit of information to draw from,” she said. “I enjoy being brought in at the beginning of a project so that I’m not an afterthought and have to match whatever’s already been done.”

Construction is scheduled to begin on the project this summer or fall with completion next winter or spring, according to Patricia McManus with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in Montgomery County.

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