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Artist - Sophia Vari
Born - 1940
Origin - Greece
Year Built - 1992
About the Artist: In 1956, Sophia Vari left Greece for instruction at the Heathfield School in London, where she learned English and began to paint. She continued her education at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1958, and in the workshops of Edouard Mac Avoy and Jean Souverbie from 1962-67. Vari began sculpting in 1978 and turned her attention to monuments in 1991.
Danseuse Espagnole (Spanish Dancer), 1992, is the centerpiece of the Plaza of Heroines, a public site on the Wichita State University campus that celebrates the history and accomplishments of women. The rhythmic coils of Danseuse Espagnole emulate the bodily movements and energy of the dance. Vari's approach to the body and the sensuality of the dance "develop[s] out of a feminine consciousness," according to John Yau, "the references to the erotic are always playful and delicate." While Vari's sculpture clearly emerges from a modernist tradition, the planar quality of her work was inspired by the Renaissance sculptor Donatello. The monumentality of the work, however, is less dependent on the Renaissance than on Olmec sculpture. Vari became acquainted with the prehistoric art of Mexico through her marriage to artist Fernando Botero.