Newsroom Archive


Bronze John Jay Finds a Home at His Namesake College

Li’l Jay, the ubiquitous John Jay bobblehead, now has a 5-foot-10-inch, 670-pound big brother!

On Dec. 8, President Jeremy Travis led a festive unveiling and dedication of the eagerly awaited full-size statue of John Jay, who was the first Chief Justice of the United States, among many other pivotal roles he played as one of the nation’s Founding Fathers.

The statue, a gleaming bronze created by StudioEIS in Brooklyn, stands in a position of spotlighted prominence in the Kroll Atrium, where it is accompanied by descriptive information on many of the highlights of Jay’s singular career as a patriot, jurist, elected official, diplomat and essayist.

“You can’t help but be impressed” by what Jay accomplished, President Travis noted, calling him “our forgotten Founding Father, one of the greatest New Yorkers, who helped create our democracy.” The statue, he said, provides “a way for us to reconnect with an important part of our nation’s history.”

Travis was followed to the lectern by John Jay College Foundation Chairman Jules Kroll, who read a proclamation from New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio declaring Dec. 8 as “John Jay College of Criminal Justice Day.” The proclamation notes: “As an engine for justice and innovation, John Jay College plays a critical role in our city’s evolution. May it continue to soar.”

Pierre Jay DeVeigh, one of many Jay descendants on hand for the ceremony, spoke for the family, congratulating the College community and singling out John Jay’s skills as negotiator — skills he said are badly needed today. “My hope is that in this time when the country is so divided, that someone from the John Jay College community will develop similar negotiating skills to help put this country back together again,” DeVeigh said.

Ivan Schwartz, one of the co-founders of StudioEIS, detailed the yearlong process of creating the likeness, speaking of his team’s “forensic pursuit of evidence” that included examining portraits and busts of Jay, measuring his only surviving judicial robe, and having a model photographed in different poses at the installation site to provide different alternative approaches to the eventual statue.

“We had to be meticulous about what John Jay looked like,” said Schwartz, whose studio has also created statues of such historical figures as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Frederick Douglass, and all 42 signers of the Constitution.

“Our job is less about making art than it is about activating the past,” said Schwartz. “This is our cultural raison d’être.”

The creative team included production manager Bj Ervick, head sculptor Jiwoong Cheh, portrait sculptor Stuart Williamson, and Schwartz’s partners in StudioEIS, his brother Elliot and sister Debra. The statue itself was cast by a foundry in Phoenix, Ariz.

“Our studio has been going for 40 years, and I believe we’re just now doing our best work,” Schwartz said. The spontaneous chorus of oohs and ahhs that erupted in the atrium when the statue was unveiled appeared to confirm Schwartz’s assessment.

For more photos of the dedication, click here.

Click here for coverage of the event in The New York Times.

Click here to read the Mayor’s proclamation.