What makes sculpted drapery so notable in Washington is that there is so much of it. Most statues in this city -- whether they depict generals or presidents or allegorical figures -- are swathed in rippled cloth. Typical is Isidore Konti's "South America" at the Organization of American States. True, she has an olive branch (for peace), and a boy companion (for the continent's "youth"), but what she shows us most insistently is her voluminous gown. This accent on undulating fabric is not unusual. The statue of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at the foot of Capitol Hill is mostly cape. The seated Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial, not to be outdone, has a big stone cloak tossed over his throne. Flowing cloth in Western art is an old and subtle symbol. The robe of the judge, the veil of the bride, the dinner table's tablecloth -- all these somehow elevate. Patriots salute flags, ballplayers play for pennants, and Superman dons his otherwise useless cape for much the same reason that sculptors sculpt symbolic cloth. Drapery ennobles.

-- Paul Richard

"South America" is marble. She was carved in 1910. Her throne is on a pedestal in front of the Organization of American States at 17th Street and Constitution Avenue NW.