Freedom of the Human Spirit [Plaster]

Dublin Core


Freedom of the Human Spirit [Plaster]


Figure sculpture, American--20th century


Freedom of the Human Spirit, 1964
Plaster and fiberglass

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Marshall M. Fredericks

The Freedom of the Human Spirit was originally sculpted for the 1964 World's Fair in New York City. It stood in the Court of States area of the fair.
Fredericks is quoted explaining the Freedom of the Human Spirit:

"I tried to take the male and female figures and free them from the earth. The only reason they stand up in the space at all is because they are suspended by sort of semi-visible abstract forms that keep them in the air, and then there are three giant wind swans flying with them. The idea was that these human beings, these people-us, do not have to be limited to the earth, to the ground. We can free ourselves mentally and spiritually whenever we want to, if we just try to do so."

This sculpture was moved in 1996 to the main entrance of the Arthur Ashe US Tennis Center in New York City.


Fredericks, Marshall M., 1908-1998




Use of this image requires permission from the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum




University Center (Mich.)

Sculpture Item Type Metadata

Physical Dimensions

300" h x 108"


Plaster. fiberglas full-scale

Catalog Number


Object Location

Main Exhibit Gallery


1989 March, 22 Gift to Museum and SVSU Board of Control


Since the heavy plaster original of this towering composition might constitute a safety hazard, Fredericks created this cast from the original model in lightweight fiberglass in 1987. Only the lower six feet of the supporting structure are part of the original plaster model for the World's Fair sculpture.

MF, Sculptor copy:
In Flushing, New York, on the grounds of the old site of the United Nations, a composition of two figures and two wild swans rising upward in free flight, was erected in the same year. Commissioned for the United States Pavilion at the World's Fair, Freedom of the Human Spirit, twenty-seven feet high, is a striking achievement of poetic movement-a goal Fredericks had pursued from his earliest works.

Molly Barth copy:
Near The Saints and Sinners is a full-scale fiberglass cast of The Freedom of the Human Spirit. Freedom of the Human Spirit was originally made in bronze for the 1964 Worlds' Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York. The three swans and two figures are very inspirational, very uplifting. Fredericks has said, if he can just inspire and lift someone up, just one person, from the mundane things that we go through life, that is what he has always wanted to do through his sculpture. There were a whole series of monumental sculptures, that were done for the Worlds' Fair, but only three were chosen to remain. Just recently, the people of Birmingham, Michigan, Fredericks' home town, raised the money for a bronze cast of this sculpture to be put up in Shain Park, in downtown Birmingham. It was dedicated in 1985, on a granite pedestal, a circular granite pedestal shaped like the marble one in the gallery. The one-third scale model for this sculpture is also in the gallery.

From Archives: written by Melissa Ford:
Marshall Fredericks frequently used the figure of a swan in his sculptures. Many cultures feature swans in their mythology and folklore. Swans have come to symbolize fidelity and purity and are associated with music, poetry and divination. Fredericks often employed the swan as a symbol of resurrection and eternal life in his sculptures. Wings of the Morning, Freedom of the Human Spirit, and Indian and Wilds Swans as well as several other works feature swans.
It seems that Fredericks' possessed a deep love and appreciation for these beautiful and graceful creatures. Besides sculpting swans, Fredericks played an integral role in a swan nesting project during the 1960s. As a civic gesture to his hometown of Birmingham, Michigan, Fredericks presented two pairs of swans to the city. The Australian Black and White Mute swans made their home in Quarton Lake located in the heart of the city. Unfortunately, several of the birds did not fare well in their new surroundings had to be replaced by the city of Birmingham.
During the 1970s, in order to protect the swans and encourage nesting, the parks department constructed a bird sanctuary in the middle of the lake. This tiny floating island, constructed of several government surplus "life rafts", was approximately thirty-five feet in diameter and covered in a vegetative screen of wild grasses and rushes. Each winter, the swans would be removed from the lake and provided with shelter by the parks department until spring when they would return to the water. The swans would then spend the rest of spring, summer and early fall on Quarton Lake being enjoyed by passing residents and visitors.
As Fredericks' home in Birmingham overlooked Quarton Lake, it is quite plausible that one of these birds served as a real life inspiration for the swans often found in Marshall Fredericks' work.




Fredericks, Marshall M., 1908-1998, “Freedom of the Human Spirit [Plaster],” Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, accessed February 28, 2024,