ATLANTA — The sculpted clay was dry and the bronze would soon be cast, but artist Martin Dawe still found himself waking with a start before dawn, worried that he didn’t get the details of the famous man’s face exactly right.
On Monday, Dawe will find out if he succeeded when officials unveil his statue of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on the Georgia state Capitol’s grounds for the 54th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Getting to this point was a three-year struggle over multiple hurdles. Officials had to negotiate with King’s family for the right to use his image. Then an artist was selected for the project, only to be killed in a motorcycle accident. After a lengthy screening, Dawe was chosen to replace him.
Then came the artistic challenge.
“It’s the most difficult portrait I’ve ever done in my whole career,” Dawe said this month