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Path of Thorns and Roses


Completed and Installed


The Alexandria Commission for the Arts endorsed Mario Chiodo’s proposed sculpture and the City Council agreed, naming Mario the winner of a historical public art commission in Alexandria, Virginia. The bronze sculptural enlargement has been placed in the Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery, a recently unearthed burial ground for African American refugees seeking freedom in the North. Mario’s passionate, spiraling depiction includes figurative representations of Oppression, Struggle, Sacrifice, Loss, Compassion, and Hope - the highest figure - holding the unbloomed “rose of freedom” as he stands on his tiptoes to avoid the thorns of oppression beneath him.


Alexandria, Virginia, which is located just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C., was one of several cities on the border between the Confederacy and Union through which thousands of freedom-seeking African Americans passed. Many arrived sick and starving, and sadly, perished. Of the approximately 1800 graves that have been located in the Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery, 40% of them were children. Mario sculpted the figure of Sacrifice mourning over her deceased child, while the figure of Compassion offers her a flower of hope. Limited model editions are available for purchase.


The Cultural Affairs Department of Alexandria hosted a multi-day dedication September 4-6, 2014. Mario spoke at the African American Museum in Alexandria about the importance of historical sculpture and monuments.


“Thank you for the magnificent tribute to my ancestors. It serves as a beacon to my ancestors and all those oppressed.”  – Fran Burton, descendant of individuals buried in the Freedmen’s Cemetery


Local News Article Covering the Dedication:                                    YouTube Video Created by John Reilly:

Alexandria News September 6, 2014                                                  Contrabands and Freedmen’s  Cemetery Memorial

NBC Washington September 7, 2014