Police are still investigating the apparent vandalism of the "Venus of Bayport" statue that formerly sat on the corner of McConnell Avenue and Academy Street, and was discovered missing on April 10.
The statue was found in pieces scattered in a trail going east on Academy Street, north on Oakwood Avenue to Railroad Street, then made a U-turn by the baseball field at the high school and finally ended by the train tracks just west of McConnell Avenue.
Tied with a nylon rope and rigged to a vehicle, the statue was uprooted, broken and strewn throughout the streets of Bayport in the early morning of April 10. Sculptor of the statue, Irene Lap Bansé, discovered the base and the nylon rope thrown in the swamp near Lotus Lake.
The statue has been a local landmark since 1975, when Bansé brought it home. It was her senior college project from Hartford Art School, where she studied ancient art history. The statue remained nestled in the corner of her mother’s house since then.
Bansé said the statue was an enlarged replica of a Neolithic 4.3-inch figurine discovered in Germany in 1908 called “Venus of Willendorf.” Archeologists believed the portly woman was created to exemplify a fertility goddess between 30,000-25,000 B.C.
“I was just struck by this figure,” Bansé said. “I thought she was beautiful and I just felt an affinity for her.”
With the help of her professor, Bansé said she carved the body of the statue—from the ankles up—out of Styrofoam blocks used to make floating docks because it was light weight and held its shape. She pasted the blocks together with plaster and used fiberglass resin on the outside to give the piece a cast iron-like appearance. Bansé used metal rods in the legs to give the statue a solid support and finished the base with a layer of concrete.
“The biggest weight of the statue was actually below ground in a concrete base,” Bansé said. “From the street, she looks really heavy.”
Bansé said that’s why she was surprised that neither her mother nor brother still living in the house heard anything the night of its destruction. She said the concrete must have made some kind of noise, especially after being dragged behind a vehicle.
“That’s the crazy thing about it,” Bansé said. “Both of their bedrooms are right in front of the house and no one heard anything. It must have been in the dead of night.”
Bansé said she is shocked and saddened that her statue was abducted and destroyed. She also said she has spent a lot of time on Facebook receiving messages from residents expressing how much the statue meant to them.
“I’m just overwhelmed,” she said. “You expect to hear it from friends, but when it’s from people you never met, it’s surprising.”
Bansé said she intends to prosecute if the culprits are found and hopes the police will find them.
As of right now, Bansé said she has no plans to rebuild the statue, but has not completely ruled out the possibility.