Washington Branch Library

Wanda Ewing's Presence in the Omaha Community

What Wanda teaches us: the beloved artist and educator continues to reach people through art by inspiring others' creations and contemplations.

The Caged Bird outdoor sculpture garden at the Charles B. Washington Library, a North Branch of the Omaha Public Library system, is the product of a larger 2006 library remodeling project. Artist Yanna Ramaeker, sculptor and friend of Wanda Ewing, created “[t]wo bronze sculptures and a giant birdcage containing bronze birds visually express[ing her] … interpretation of Maya Angelou’s poem ‘Caged Bird.’ Ramaeker designed the sculptures and garden to be a peaceful environment for reading and meditation.”

Ramaeker commented that, "Wanda was my model. I made the piece in my studio that was at my farm in Genoa, Nebraska at the time. She came out for a weekend, she modeled for me, we drank wine, ate good food, laughed, [enjoyed] a great time bonding as friends."

The circular stone seating is first and foremost an invitation to all kinds of potential friendships: one with yourself and silence, with the world around you, the people sharing space with you, and the characters and images you might find in a library book.

The sculpture garden allows for intimate observation and conversation around the artwork and serves as part of the artistic presentation as well. You may notice that the beginning of the circular wall starts at a lower point and gradually escalates to a higher level by the time it reaches the standing statue with its wings outstretched. Many details, like the wall height, are open for interpretations from visitors.