Congratulations to Bridgette Mongeon, a gifted sculptor and our own neighbor in Kentwood Manor, who has been commissioned to create not one, but two life-sized sculptures of Neil Armstrong in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the United States space program’s first walk on the moon.
In 2012 a group from Russia gave Houston a sculpture of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space in 1961. The Gagarin sculpture now sits outside the former Manned Spacecraft Center Headquarters in southeast Houston along with a panel of John Glenn in honor of both space pioneers. With that extraordinary gesture the United in Space project began as Sophya Tabarovsky, born in Russia and a Houstonian for the last 30 years, has worked to raise funds in America to send a sculpture of Neil Armstrong to Russia in the best kind of reciprocity. The United in Space project has evolved and Mongeon recently shared news that a twin sculpture of Armstrong will be placed at Space Center Houston.
Last Friday, Americans and Russians came together to celebrate International Day of Human Space Flight and Mongeon was there.
Mongeon said, “I didn’t realize what a connection and camaraderie Russia has with Americans through being united in space. I am thrilled to be working on this project.”
The artist further shared, “This has been my client’s dream since 2012. We have walked this road together for all this time. Of course, the anniversary year of Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon is the year that it will come together. Knowing these two bronzes will be placed both in Russia and at Space Center Houston just makes me smile.”
It is reported the Smithsonian has a 3D scan of the actual space suit Neil Armstrong wore and Mongeon is hopeful she can use 3D technology to accurately recreate Armstrong’s space suit in bronze. The project is in the beginning stages; the twin sculpture project will take approximately nine months to complete.
Mongeon gained worldwide attention with her extraordinary Alice in Wonderland sculpture project as well as her use of 3D technology. The fantastic and monumental bronze sculpture of Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter tea party named “Move One Place On,” with a 10-foot-long table and 8-foot-tall characters painstakingly created by Mongeon, was installed in Bellaire’s Evelyn Rubenstein Park in 2018. Visitors to the sculpture can bring their lunch and have a picnic with Alice, the Mad Hatter, March Hare, Cheshire Cat and Dormouse.
Also an author, Mongeon published “3D in Technology, Fine Art and Craft, Exploring 3D Printing, Scanning, Sculpting and Milling,” a book which was a No. 1 new release on Amazon. Mongeon has been incorporating digital technology in her fine artwork for years. She writes and speaks on this topic and now pushes the possibilities of art combined with technology to new “curious” limits.
With several interesting projects ongoing, Mongeon just announced a new commission of actress and activist Penny Marshall for the AAGPBL, the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. The portrait bust of Marshall will be dedicated at Cooperstown, N.Y., at the reunion of the Peaches, the women portrayed in Marshall’s film “A League of Their Own.”
One of Mongeon’s current sculpture projects is Eve. A little over 13-feet tall and a project still in progress, thoughts about the construction of Eve gives us a view into the artist’s mind as she works to create this sculpture:
“I keep thinking about what she is feeling as her left hand trails as one would if they were walking through a field of tall grass, gently touching and embracing the nature and the space between wonder and nature. If you were looking at her walking you might see a mystical, magical trail spring forth from that touch. Her right arm reaches up and is dainty. For me this is a strength move. It shows her strength and her wonder and her carefree spirit, but also it is a conduit, because all of those emotions she knows has a force. It is not a guessing game for her, it is not a wonder; she, like many powerful and spiritual women I know, can channel that spirit as if the feminine has this clear portal of faith, strength and wisdom from above. … I’m in the warehouse trying to capture the face of the matriarch of matriarchs. No pressure. Will I hear some chorus from heaven when I find her or will that only be the chorus I hear from my client? I just keep pushing the clay around and searching for her.”
If you’d begun to think the artist creates figures in 3D on a computer and then copies them in clay, you are mistaken. Each square inch of each sculpture is thoughtfully, mindfully, carefully created and refined.
While it is obvious Mongeon is deeply connected to each of her projects, she is also devoted to education in both the arts and in STEAM projects for schoolchildren. A 3D scan was made of Evelyn’s Park and the Move One Place On sculpture and Mongeon hopes to find a college or school who can take those 3D scans and create a computer-generated virtual reality educational program to be used by STEAM students.
The website for united in space is unitedinspace.com and you can follow the artist on instagram Bridgett Mongeon https://www.instagram.com/bridgettemongeon.