Make Way for Ducklings Sculptor – Nancy Schön’s work on view (and sale) at Kolbo

Arts, Career, Features

By Matt Robinson

While most Bostonians may know her best for her renditions of the Tortoise and the Hare on Copley Square and the Mallard family from the Boston-based book Make Way for Ducklings in the Public Gardens, sculptor Nancy Schön has an artistic heritage that flies further afield and that also takes a great deal from her personal heritage. That heritage and her Boston roots may be why she chose Kolbo Fine Judaica in Brookline ( as her exclusive gallery in the region.

Having “fallen in love with Michaelangelo at an early age,” Schön was “always good with my hands” and was often relegated to the role of the “fix it” person in her family home. “Intuitionally, [I] knew how things worked and could be put together,” she recalls.

Starting at the age of ten, Schön went to children’s classes at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and began to study sculpture. “I always loved it and found it a natural way for me to express myself,” she explains.

Though neither of her parents worked in clay, Schön says that she can see where her sense of style and beauty came from. “My Father was a florist and had a definite aesthetic side,” she explains. “My mother…always made beautiful flower arrangements all over the house as well.”

Though she showed a natural inclination to the craft, Schön never thought that she would ever be able to make a living at it. “Never in my wildest dreams,” she admits.

Her work soon began to get noticed and Schön was eventually contacted by an urban planner who wanted a piece for the Public Gardens. “She asked me to collaborate with her,” Schön says. “We wrote a proposal, got approval from Robert McCloskey, got the sponsorship of the Friends of the Boston Public Garden, [and] were accepted by the Art Commission, the Landmarks Commission, and the Parks Department [which was] no mean feat!”

As popular as the ducks have become with tourists, they are also popular with pranksters, many of whom have stolen one of the baby ducklings from Mrs. Mallard. “When a duck is stolen, I have to make a new one,” Schön explains, noting that there are “extra ducks” in the Boston Public Library and on the Children’s Patio of Boston City Hospital.

Schön produced many of the works that are currently (and indefinitely) on display at Kolbo when she was living in Israel with her family. “My husband did a Sabbatical and we took our four children with us,” she recalls. “I had a studio overlooking the Old City and ended up just before we left with the first show the Jerusalem Theater Gallery ever had.”

When asked what she hopes visitors to Kolbo will come away with, Schön says that she hopes that many leave with her art (which she encourages them to touch and explore), but adds that she also hopes to “bring some joy and pleasure” through her work.

“I love what I do,” she says, “and I am told this comes through with my sculpture.”


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