The Aurora Highlands Announces Statue of Pioneer Dr. Justina Ford, Celebrating Colorado’s First Female Black Doctor

May 9, 2024

The bronze statue is part of the master-planned community’s award-winning public art program within Hogan Park at Highlands Creek.


Aurora, CO (May 9, 2024) – The Aurora Highlands is proud to announce a significant new addition to its award-winning Art in the Park program – a permanent public sculpture honoring Dr. Justina Ford, Colorado’s first female Black doctor, renowned for her tireless dedication to healthcare and community service. By acclaimed artists Gillie and Marc and commissioned through the Statues for Equity initiative, this bronze sculpture now lives in front of the community’s clocktower entrance, marking the beginning of Hogan Park at Highlands Creek’s public art park.

Described as the Mother Teresa of Five Points, Dr. Ford stands as a towering figure in medical history, embodying the spirit of resilience and dedication. Despite facing systemic racism and sexism in the early 1900s, she forged a unique path in healthcare, delivering over 7,000 babies and providing vital medical services to immigrants, people of color and the impoverished for five decades from her home in Denver. Her relentless pursuit of professional recognition, which she finally achieved in 1950, marked a milestone in the fight against discrimination in the medical field. Her sculpture within The Aurora Highlands’ public art park, Hogan Park at Highlands Creek, is meant to be a reminder of her struggles and triumphs while also serving as a source of inspiration to residents and visitors. Her sculpture captures Dr. Ford seated on a bench, cradling an infant, a poignant representation of her renowned legacy.

British and Australian artists Gillie and Marc are behind this new sculpture and the Statues for Equality movement. Known for their innovative public sculptures that convey messages of love, equality and conservation, Gillie and Marc’s work has captivated audiences worldwide, making a profound impact in over 250 cities. Recently, the New York Times called the duo “the most successful and prolific creators of public art in New York’s History.”

They began their Statues for Equality movement to balance gender and racial representation in public art. By crafting bronze statues of inspirational women, like U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Oprah Winfrey and Eleanor Roosevelt, they aim to not only honor women’s contributions to society but also promote a balanced portrayal of gender in public art across the world.

“Over the past 15 years, 99% of our sculpture commission requests have been for statues of men,” artists Gillie and Marc said. “When we dug deeper, we found this to be a global issue compelling us to pledge our creativity towards rectifying this imbalance. Stories like Dr. Justina Ford’s deserve to be memorialized, and we are profoundly honored to be a part of creating a space for people to connect within The Aurora Highlands and draw inspiration from her remarkable journey for generations to come.”

Hogan Park at Highlands Creek, nestled within The Aurora Highlands community near Denver International Airport, has garnered national attention for its Art in the Park program. The program, spearheaded by Carla Ferreira, director of onsite development and principal at The Aurora Highlands, aims to integrate public art installations that inspire and instill pride within the community. With over 20 installations already in place and more to come, the park serves as a testament to the transformative power of public art.

“As an LGBTQ+ woman navigating the complexities of a male-dominated industry, the unveiling of Dr. Justina Ford’s sculpture resonates with me on a profoundly personal level,” Ferreira said. “Her relentless pursuit of excellence and recognition in the face of systemic barriers mirrors the challenges many of us face today in striving for equality and respect in our fields. I’m in awe of the way Gillie and Marc captured her essence. This sculpture will stand as a powerful symbol of how far we have come while simultaneously reminding us of the resilience still required to break through glass ceilings.”

The Aurora Highlands and Hogan Park at Highlands Creek continue to receive accolades for their innovative approach to community development and public art, including the Gold Award at the National Association of Home Builders awards and recognition from the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts. The addition of Dr. Justina Ford’s sculpture to the park’s collection is a significant milestone in the community’s ongoing efforts to celebrate and promote diversity, equality and the arts.

Roberta Bloom, the Public Art Manager for the city of Aurora, collaborated with Ferreira on crafting the public art plan for The Aurora Highlands. With a rich background marked by an MFA in Visual Arts, Roberta has built a distinguished career as an artist, educator and program leader. Her extensive experience and leadership in Aurora’s public art programs were instrumental in the development and realization of innovative public art strategies for The Aurora Highlands.

“When I learned about the Statues of Equality initiative, I immediately thought that Carla and The Aurora Highlands would be a perfect fit, and the results speak for themselves,” Bloom said. “The Dr. Justina Ford sculpture is a meaningful addition to the already exceptional collection of public art at The Aurora Highlands. Aurora celebrates Carla and The Aurora Highlands for understanding the value of public art to define a place, articulate values, generate conversation, inspire innovation and create a great place to live, work and visit. 

The public is invited to view the statue at the entrance of The Aurora Highlands community at the southwest corner of The Aurora Highlands Parkway and Main Street along the northbound exit from E-470. 

About The Aurora Highlands

Located between the mountains and the plains, The Aurora Highlands 4,000-acre master planned community expands the metro area to the east near DIA. The community features every category of housing from attached to multi-family to single-family residences, providing people with more than 12,500 housing units. The community also incorporates Colorado’s active lifestyle with recreation centers and over 21 miles of trails, 12 neighborhood parks and 20 pocket parks. Hogan Park at Highlands Creek in particular will feature public art installations, performance plazas, climbing walls, a zip line, embankment slides and gardens in its nearly 100-acre space. Aurora Public Schools will also build four new schools in the community, the first of which will open for the 2023-2024 school year. For more information about The Aurora Highlands, please visit www.theaurorahighlands.com  or call the Visitor Center at 720-356-0123.  

About Gillie and Marc

Gillie and Marc have been called the most successful and prolific creators of public art in New York’s history by the New York Times. Creating some of the world’s most innovative public sculptures, Gillie and Marc are spreading messages of love, equality, and conservation. Referred to by the media as “the world’s most loving artists”, they have worked side by side for over 30 years.

Their highly coveted sculptures and paintings can be seen in galleries and public sites in over 250 cities. They have won the Allens People’s Choice Award at Sydney’s iconic Sculpture by the Sea twice, as well as the Kids’ Choice Award. They’re Archibald Prize Finalists and have won the Biennale di Chianciano among other awards and accolades.

The artists are best known for their beloved characters, Rabbitwoman and Dogman, who tell the autobiographical tale of two opposites coming together as soul mates. Their art has raised awareness for conservation through their monumental public sculptures, generating hundreds of thousands in donations to wildlife charities. They are also the founders of the international public art movement for gender equality, Statues For Equality.


Liz Kotalik
Prim + Co