The artist Nína Sæmundsson was born and raised in Nikulásarhúsum in Fljótshlíð on the 22nd of August 1892. She grew up in a society with few opportunities other than being a part of the old Icelandic agriculture, where farming was the way of life.
She had the ambition to become an artist, but she was told it would not be a profitable career worth seeking. Nína got the opportunity to move to Copenhagen where she worked in a laundry company run by her aunt. Nína got the chance to create some sculptures and was accepted into the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen.
After finishing her studies there, she moved to New York in 1926 and became a well-known artist, primarily known for her sculptures. Her best-known works include Mother´s Love Statue (Móðurást), located in Mæðragarðurinn in Reykjavík, the Prometheus Bringing Fire to Earth statue (1935) located in MacArthur Park in LA, and the Leifur Eiríksson Bust (1936), located in Griffith Park, LA.
The Spirit of Achievement Statue (1931), a slender and tall winged nymph, adorned the entrance of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.
A few years ago, Kristín Þórðardóttir and Friðrik Erlingsson got the idea of creating a replica of the Spirit of Achievement Statue to place near Nína birthplace. Friðrik took on the task, and after a lot of hard work and time, he managed to accomplish it. It was initially challenging to obtain a license from the owners of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel owners to create a replica of the statue and to raise funds for making the copy, bringing it to Iceland, and establishing a foundation for it in the town of Hvolsvöllur. However, with determination and effort, everything fell into place, and the beautiful replica of the Spirit of Achievement Statue was consecrated on the 22nd of August 2023, on Nína Sæmundsson's birthday.
It is a remarkable work of art and an inspiration for all of us to pursue our dreams and make them a part of our lives. If you find yourself in Hvolsvöllur, be sure to stop by and draw inspiration from it.
Spirit of Achievement location