Courtesy: Gary Braasch
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To Scale the Scales of Justice

Salem, Oregon

M.J. Anderson (

Oregon Department of Justice - sculptures flank both sides of entry to building, 1162 Court St NE, Salem, Oregon, 97301
Also known as:  Justice
Date:  2009, 2010
Placement:  government office buildings
Collection:  Oregon Arts Commission
Artwork Type:  sculpture (visual work)
Material:  marble (rock), granite (rock)
Description:  The figures, carved of Italian Bardiglio Marble and set on granite steps are created by Oregon native, M.J. Anderson through the Oregon Percent for Art Program. M.J. Anderson divides her time between her studios on the Oregon Coast and Carrara, Italy. She creates public, private, and liturgical art commissions as well as sculpture for gallery exhibition. More information on the artist is available on her website:

The classical 1929 Justice Building housing classical ideals called for a classically inspired work of art. While justice within the building is maintained by the exacting nature of law, art is less exacting and frought with multiple meanings and interpretations.

As much as stone is a material that is “real” , I see my sculpture as a presentation of ideas -- --rather than a physical object of something that resembles a figure. Ideas are living things and deeply personal. Ideas change and evolve, ideas can be shared and can become stronger than stone. I hope to create work where the ideas of others come into play -- only then will my work have longevity and meaning. MJ ANDERSON

The sculptures are an allegorical work, a contemporary interpretation of the symbol of Justice. Approaching the entrance, the sculptures are classically and symmetrically framed in line with the two side arches of the architectural facade. They are placed within each triangular island , rising from recently installed native plantings.

--Facing one another, the two figures represent the dialogue which takes place in the search for justice, whether between friend and foe, defense or prosecution, or between colleagues.-- With only half a head, that which is missing takes on more import, perhaps causing people to think, question or reflect on the ideas of justice. My experience has taught me that sculptures with faces become an individual entity- while sculptures without represent “everyman.”--In the original call for art, the committee was looking for work that would reflect Justice as protecting a community. Who better to represent the idea of protection than the force behind the will of two mature female figures?

-- Mounted on basalt or black granite stepped bases, the steps represent the steps taken to secure justice. (The Latin root for the words to carve and stairs are one and the same.)-- The two figures themselves allegorically become the two scales of Justice, creating a dialogue of integrity, fidelity, honesty and impartiality in weighing truth and equity for the people of Oregon.



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