Sculptor Nilda Comas is creating a statue of the beloved canine Molly, the ambassador for the Marion County Animal Abuser Registry.
From her studio in Pietrasanta, Italy, Nilda Comas looks out upon the majestic Apuan Alps mountain range that extends between the Garfagnana, Versilia and Massa Carrara areas. The mountains are a natural masterpiece and the home of Carrara marble, which has been transformed into art masterpieces by sculptors including Renaissance artist Michelangelo and Comas herself.
Works by Comas have been featured in solo and group exhibitions in numerous museums and galleries in the U.S. and abroad. She recently was chosen by the Florida Council on Arts and Culture to create a statue of Mary McLeod Bethune for the National Statuary Hall in the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
She also has a studio in Fort Lauderdale and is a frequent visitor to Ocala, where her brother Tito Comas, an artist and businessman, has lived for years. She was moved when she learned the story of Molly, a snow white mixed-breed canine who survived being beaten and stabbed in 2014. Molly’s accused attacker spent time in prison. Molly became the ambassador of the Marion County Animal Abuser Registry, also known as Molly’s Law. After Lilly Baron, president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Ocala, and Molly’s longtime human companion, found out about Nilda, a plan was formed to commission a sculpture of Molly.
“Lilly told me what she was thinking about, and I got to meet Molly, who steals your heart,” Comas recalls. “I saw Molly several times and I accepted the commission. I measured her, took lots of pictures, played with her. She would come and sit really close to me. She would look up and that was really nice as I could see her eyes and her expression.”
“When Nilda met Molly, she loved her and what she represented,” Baron offers. “That’s what grabbed her, what Molly represented.”
An anonymous sponsor backed the commission and Comas announced in October 2021 in Ocala that she would be creating the sculpture of Molly.
Sadly, Molly died of cancer, peacefully at home with Baron, on February 22nd.
In a telephone interview in early March, Comas, who was working on the sculpture in her studio in Italy, expressed how sad she was to learn of Molly’s passing. Of her work on the piece, she offers, “It’s coming along quite well.”
“I’ve been working on Molly and other projects at the same time. I always work on different projects because it’s not good for the hands to work on the marble all of the time,” she shares. “I work with natural light. And I try to be consistent with the light and work at the same times of day. That way, the sculpture is the same when I look at it. When you have different light, it changes what you are looking at and you can make mistakes because you may think something is deeper than what it is. The lighting is very important.”.
As it was to Michelangelo himself, who said, “I live and love in God’s peculiar light.”
She feels a deep connection to history both through the view from her studio and the very marble she is using to create Molly’s statue.
“I can see the marble quarries up in the mountains and it’s so beautiful and so inspiring. I see Michelangelo’s three caves and this piece of marble, Molly’s block, came from one of Michelangelo’s caves,” she notes with pride. “It will be very historical and beautiful of course, and I’m very privileged to work on such beautiful marble and do a sculpture of Molly since she’s such a legacy. It is the most precious marble that exists. It’s very compact and you can carve it without it falling apart and that’s why people come from all over the world to get it. Other marble is good for kitchens and floors and buildings, but they cannot be carved because they fall apart. Like when sugar gets hard, if you hit it, it could fall into dust again. That’s what happens with marble, when you hit it with a chisel, if it’s not the right marble it will break in many pieces or not give you good detail. You can be working on a piece and, all of a sudden, you hit and ‘Poom,’ it just disintegrates.”
While Comas gave us a glimpse of Molly’s delicate paw for this story, the final sculpture will not be seen by the public until it is unveiled on June 7th at 11am at the Citizens’ Service Center Plaza at 201 SE 1st St., near the Ocala Downtown Market. Baron is hosting the event, which is being sponsored by the city of Ocala.
Comas explains that the sculpture will serve as a tribute to Molly’s legacy, and by way of the marks carved in the white marble that represent where she was injured, a poignant reminder for the community of the need to protect animals from those who would abuse them.
“Her life became very important, and the sculpture is going to be forever, so she definitely is going to have a lot of impact,” Comas offers.
Baron visited Tallahassee on March 29th (Marion County Day) to invite politicians to the unveiling and promote a statewide animal abuser registry.
“There are only eight or 10 counties that have an animal abuser registry, and those are different versions. So, someone who is on it can just hop over the line and go to another county and keep doing what they do,” she says fiercely. “That’s why it’s so important that we have a statewide registry. I’ll never stop until we do. For Molly.” OS
The SPCA of Ocala has launched a campaign to raise $5,000 to transport the sculpture to Ocala.
To donate, go to tinyurl.com/mollystatue
The county’s animal abuser registry is accessible at marioncountyfl.org/aar
Learn more about Nilda Comas at nildacomas.com