The Latvian Freedom Fountain, located in the median on Cascade Avenue in front of the Penrose Library, was erected in 1970 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Latvian independence. The abstract granite form represents a “kokle,” a traditional Latvian harp, and the three stars on either side of the granite reference the Latvian Coat of Arms. When it was erected, Latvia had lost their independence under Soviet rule. Many Latvians, such as the Fountain’s sculptor Ansis Berzins, were forced to flee their country and found refuge in the United States.
Berzins’ design would have struggled to garner any praise in his homeland as the Soviet regime enforced Socialist Realism, which became the only acceptable mode of artistic expression. The abstract representational form of the sculpture acts as a testament to the freedom of expression and thought that had been lost under Soviet control. The Freedom Fountain stood in commemoration of Latvian independence, but also as a memorial to the loss of that freedom. As Bill Bruce said at the dedication ceremony of the Freedom Fountain in 1970, “…it is a silent tribute to the millions of persons who have attained freedom, yet, through circumstances of political power, have lost their freedom, their property, their dignity, their lives or relatives.”
The plaque of the Freedom Fountain states that it was intended as a gift to the people of Colorado Springs to show the appreciation that thousands of Latvian refugees had for being given an opportunity to live free in America. As the plaque states, the Fountain operates as “A symbol of hope for all of the formerly free people of the world, who keep alive in their hearts the hope of self-determination.” The Latvian Freedom Fountain offers a constant reminder that freedom and self-determination are not ideals bound by national borders, and that those who wish to preserve them must support one another in freedom’s perpetual pursuit.
Patrick Lee, CSPM Outdoor Sculpture Maintenance Technician
Did you know the CSPM’s collection includes public art? Patrick is responsible for maintaining and documenting the museum’s sculpture collection which consists of over 100 pieces. Learn more about the CSPM Collection.