John DeAndrea's sculpture "Linda" has been back on display at the Denver Art Museum for the past few weeks, and although the piece is 21 years old, it's still one of the most requested items in the museum's holdings. The lifelike female nude made of polyvinyl is sensitive to light, so it can only be shown for short periods of time. Off Limits talked to the real Linda -- Denverite Linda Keller -- before her namesake returns to the DAM's basement on January 9.
Q: What is it like looking at a replica of yourself, being sort of permanently stuck in time?
A: Well, you know what -- it's been 21 years, and so I feel a great fondness for the piece. I really do. The feeling I have now is different than I felt when it was done. I think I'm more sentimental about it now.
Q: How old were you when you posed? Did you know John at the time?
A: When that particular piece was done, I was thirty; now I'm 51. When I first moved to Colorado in 1977, I worked as a professional model very briefly, and he was one of the places my agent sent me. It was just a job. But we did click, and he cast several pieces of me right off. But then I left the professional world of modeling and got into sales, and at one point -- this must have been in the early '80s -- I was doing a call in his neighborhood and dropped off a card. He called and said he had a sculpture in mind based on me. We got back together, and he wound up doing several pieces of me, one of which is the one at the DAM.
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Q: Do you still teach in Denver?
A: I work for DPS at a magnet school for highly gifted and talented children. I teach poetry and go as a guest poet to other schools. I've been writing poetry since I was fourteen, and I just came out with a brand-new book called Comet Dreams. Poetry is one thing I've done consistently, so I hope when I die, my obituary will mention that and not just "Linda."
Q: Is "Linda" something your students know about?
A: In fact, the fifth-graders just went to the museum, and the teacher invited me to come up to their classroom and answer their questions. No one knew before that; I don't talk about it. It's part of my past. I used to work in a kindergarten class, and one of those kids just left a message on my voice-mail saying, "Ms. Linda, we saw you at the museum."