Original Artist Proofs
The Girl Puzzle Monument Featured in the Press:
Artist Amanda Matthews said, "Nellie Bly was a transformative figure in modern history. Highly regarded as America's first investigative journalist, she dedicated her life to understanding the plight of those who exist in the margins and dismantling systems of oppression. She is best known as a champion for women and girls and opposed the notion of women as subordinate by powerfully rewriting this narrative. The Girl Puzzle monument honors the title of her first published work in 1885, a bold and unvarnished response to bigotry, and her life-changing experiences in the Blackwell Island Women's Asylum (now Roosevelt Island) that shaped her life of dedication and empathy for others."
"I think that conversations about lived experiences, about intersectionality, about where we belong and in what categories other people see us and in what categories we see ourselves, need to be part of that nuanced discussion about where do women fit in? And where are these new spaces where we can now inhabit?" Matthews said.
"The exhibit that is shaking up the landscape movement is now open to the public." Savannah Sellers
"The purpose of a sculpture or a statue is usually to literally put someone up on a pedestal. The discussion is who are you idolizing and why?" Amanda Matthews
"'One of the things I’ve been told,' Matthews said, 'or heard through the construction fence more than anything else, are people who walk up and say, ‘Oh my gosh, that looks like me.’ That was especially true for Cutia Bacon Brown, who was the inspiration for one of the statues. 'She put braids on the statue!' Brown said of Matthews, her longtime friend. 'I have braids in my hair every day and the statue has braids!' ... 'I will be immortalized, on a world stage, as a Black woman in America,' Brown said. 'And how often does that happen?'"
"Men dominate the field of large-scale sculpture, especially," said Ms. Matthews, "when it comes to the foundries, metal suppliers and engineers." But women such as Ms. Matthews are challenging the norm and pursuing projects honoring women.
The Girl Puzzle listed 3rd of 9 worldwide projects: "Bly's work is being commemorated with the unveiling of The Girl Puzzle, a sculptural installation by artist Amanda Matthews of Prometheus Art. Appropriately situated on Roosevelt Island, the series will debut this summer and will feature five seven-foot tall female faces, including one representative of Bly. According to the artist’s statement, each bronze-cast piece 'shows the depth of emotion and complexity of being broken and repaired,' a challenge that Bly overcame at the asylum."
"Matthews' work is named The Girl Puzzle, after Bly’s first published words in the Pittsburgh Dispatch in 1885. The memorial consists of five seven-foot sculptures, 'rendered in partial sections that appear like giant puzzle pieces,' according to the artist’s presentation, that reflect being 'broken and repaired.' Three mirror-polished stainless steel spheres sit in the middle of the walkway, each growing in size to represent an 'amplification of her voice over time.' 'As you enter the space…you see each of the faces,” Matthews told the CITY. 'And then you will see the surrounding land, you’ll see your self. So, hopefully, you will understand that this is a sacred place with sacred stories–and you can see yourself as part of the story.'"
"The other faces in the installation won’t reference particular people Bly met through her reporting. Instead, Matthews drew from people in her own life to include depictions of women of various races and ages. Inspirations include Matthews’s own daughters, a friend who lost her child, and the mother of Matthew’s studio assistant, who was forced into a concentration camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. The site will be ADA-accessible, with space for visitors who use wheelchairs, and will be accompanied by Braille plaques and an audio guide, says Terrence McCauley, the public information officer for the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation."
"Each face will show the depth of emotion and the complexity of being broken and repaired, which was significant to the conditions Ms. Bly encountered when she posed as a mental patient to report on the conditions inside the mental hospital where the Octagon now stands. 'It is my great honor to represent Nellie Bly’s life and legacy,' said artist Amanda Matthews, 'and to celebrate her passion for diversity and inclusion. Her voice remains timely and significant today.'"