How do you start a sculpture of a person you have never met?

8 May

From Bridgette Mongeon’s Studio
The most important thing is getting to know my subject through those who knew and loved her. I’m having regular conversations with Grandma Gatewood’s granddaughter and, of course, immersing myself in everything Grandma Gatewood.

I would like to video conference with other women who have studied her. Women like Dixie – Wanderlust, who studied what Grandma Gatewood used on her hiking trips and tried to hike like her. Or Ann Van Curen, who recreates her in performances.

What pose would people relate to?
What images of the many photos on the web do I use to influence me in my process? We have settled on Grandma Gatewood wearing pants. Although Grandma Gatewood used scarves, she will not have a scarf in this sculpture. She has to have her sack, which I’m told –
“Her bag was canvas, she made from fabric. She had more than one bag that she used over the years. Denim or khaki colored canvas sturdy cloth.”

I have posted on Houston Women’s Hiking, the hiking group I’m involved with in Houston, to see if anyone has the same body build as Grandma Gatewood. I’m not shy when trying to find models. Good reference photographs mean everything to a sculptor. I posted on my neighborhood forum when I was looking for a model for Alice in Wonderland. I told them I was looking for a little girl that was about 7 or 8 that I could dress up as Alice in Wonderland. I was also looking for a neighborhood trampoline so I could have Alice jump on the trampoline, and I could take pictures of her with her dress up in the air as she was “falling.” My neighborhood has seen so much of my work. No one called the police on me on that one. Sometimes I need a body model, as is the case of Grandma Gatewood. I’m told she was about 5′ and 110-120lbs, depending on if she was going into the woods or coming out. I learned she would more likely wear a dress while hiking the Oregon Trail, as it went near major roads, and if she were on the AT, for this statue, she would be in pants because I hope to raise the money for two and put one on or near the AT.

Like Dixie, who documents what she brought on her youtube station and how she dressed, I too will look for period clothes from that time. However, It won’t be for me but will be for my body model.

Meanwhile, while I’m working on another commission, my assistant will begin to build a small wire armature of Grandma Gatewood, and add clay to the armature.

Stay tuned.


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