the Claire McCardell Project

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Breaking the Bronze Ceiling

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The Frederick Art Club is proud to drive a significant public art endeavor to honor fashion designer and Frederick, Maryland, native Claire McCardell (1905-1958). Credited with inventing American sportswear, McCardell created innovative fashions that have uniquely defined decades of American fashion. Her design perspective continues to influence the industry to this day.

The Claire McCardell Project is the creation of a larger-than-life bronze sculpture that will pay homage to the designer in her hometown. The sculpture will be located at the east end of Carroll Creek Linear Park, a world-class urban park that threads through downtown Frederick, Maryland. An accompanying wayside exhibit will tell the story of Claire’s extraordinary career, and ultimately the sculpture will be enhanced by an elegant garden. Through this project, the Frederick Art Club joins a national trend to “break the bronze ceiling” by putting monumental women on a pedestal. 


The club has undertaken this public art project to:

  • Pay tribute to a Frederick, Maryland native who won international acclaim

  • Commemorate a woman who became an icon in an arts profession  

  • Expand public recognition of exceptional women 

Watch this 8-minute film about Claire and the project to honor her.

Statue Goal Met, Garden is Next

In mid 2019 the club commissioned award-winning sculptor Sarah Hempel Irani to take the sculpture from concept to reality and in fall of that year officially launched a fundraising campaign with a $209,000 goal. Within just a few months, the project garnered endorsements and substantial financial support from prominent business, public sector, government, and educational leaders and individuals. Among these are Frederick City’s mayor and its planning/zoning and parks divisions, our county executive, Heritage Frederick, Hood College, the Public Art Commission, and the Tourism Council. The project has received generous grants from Delaplaine Foundation, Inc., Ausherman Family Foundation, and Celebrate Frederick, along with contributions from many private donors.


As of September 2020 that goal was met, and a few months later we launched an effort to raise $55,000 for an elegant garden to surround the statue. Thanks to Delaplaine Foundation, the Urban Garden Fund, the Tourism Council, Poole's Stone & Garden, Inc., Fountainhead Irrigation, and others, we are making progress toward that target.

Sharon Poole, owner of Poole's Stone & Garden in Frederick, has proposed the exciting concept below. 


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The Claire McCardell Project is a fund of the Community Foundation of Frederick County. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Funded in part by