Rebecca Childers Caleel is a native of Port St. Joe, Florida and a graduate of Florida State University. She has studied extensively for over 25 years with the former National Sculptor of Egypt, Mustafa Naguib, the world-renowned forensic sculptor, Betty Gatiliff, in France and Italy, and at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Illinois.

Presently, the Illinois State Historical Society has been using one of Caleel’s Abraham Lincoln busts for their Achievement Awards.

In 2008, Rebecca Childers Caleel was awarded the “Women of Distinction Award” for Oak Brook, Illinois, commemorating their 50th Anniversary. She was selected not only for her leadership and community services, but also for making a difference in her field. Rebecca has been a member of the Oak Brook Infant Welfare Society for over 20 years and is one of the founding members of the Women’s Board of the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, Chicago, Illinois.




 

Rebecca Childers Caleel in her foundry with monumental bronze sculptures of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas in vairious stages of completion. Both sculptures are now on permaent display in Ottawa, Illinois

The Angel Harvey Infant Welfare Society of Chicago Community Health Center commissioned Rebecca to sculpt a larger than life mother, infant and child. The sculpture “HOPE” was unveiled in April of 2005, at 3600 West Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.

On June 1, 2004, The Oak Brook Women’s Club presented a sculpture of “Lincoln and Son”, by Caleel for the Oak Brook Public Library in Oak Brook, Illinois. This sculpture is one of the works submitted for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield, Illinois.

In 2002 Caleel was selected as one of three sculptors, and the only woman, to present a maquette for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield, Illinois. In 2003 she was the sole artist chosen to do a maquette for a 100 foot wall to be placed on the back of the Museum building. This project was put on hold due to budget issues.

Caleel was also commissioned by the City of Ottawa to create two heroic sculptures commemorating the first Lincoln-Douglas Debate that took place on August 21, l858 in Ottawa, Illinois. The sculpture of Abraham Lincoln is 11 feet in height and that of Senator Stephen A. Douglas is 9 feet in height. The unveiling took place on September 14, 2002 in Ottawa, Illinois at Washington Square, the site of the original debate.

Rebecca undertook extensive research in preparation for this project. She used a life mask of Lincoln, and his hands that were made and cast by sculptor, Leonard Wells Volk in l860, and a second life mask of Lincoln made two months before his death by sculptor Clark Mills, in 1865. Photographs and information of these men and their clothing have been provided by the curator and the historians of the Smithsonian Institute, Fredrick S. Voss, Mary Panzer and James Barber; the curator of the Ford Theater, Marilyn Spoo; and the National Park Service Photographer, Rosa Wilson.

Dr. Wayne C. Temple, Chief Deputy Director, of the Illinois State Archives in Springfield, an internationally recognized authority on Abraham Lincoln and a member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission’s Advisory Committee, has also been her advisor. Harold Holzer, Vice-President for Communications, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, has used photographs of Caleel’s Lincoln-Douglas maquettes in his illustrated chapter, “Lincoln in Modern Art,” in The Lincoln Enigma: The Changing Faces of an American Icon, edited by Garbor Boritt.

In his book, “The Taste Is In My Mouth A Little…” (March 2004) Dr. Wayne C. Temple uses photographs of her Lincoln for the cover. Many of her other Lincoln works are used as illustrations.

In July of 2000, Caleel was the sole artist selected to exhibit her sculpture of Egyptian themes for The Chicago Opera Theater. The Chicago Opera Theater presented Mary Zimmerman’s production “ Akhnaten,” by Philip Glass. Two of Rebecca’s large bronze Egyptian sculptures, The Pharaoh Akhenaten, and Queen Hatshepsut, along with other sculptures were used for this event. Concurrently, The Art Institute of Chicago exhibited “Pharaohs of the Sun,” which included the Pharaoh Akhenaten.

Rebecca has had many private and corporate commissions, which include airports, churches, and hospitals. Her sculpture exhibits a wide range of subjects from large bronze bas-reliefs of Sargon the Great and the Pharaoh Akhenaten to a series of larger-than-life bronze “Body Pots-Body Parts” called Faces in the Forest, which were inspired by the Native American art of the Eastern United States and Mexico. Because of her interest in anatomy, much of Caleel’s work that is not classical includes parts of the body in unusual places not evident until careful examination of the piece.