The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) has selected Amanda Matthews/Prometheus Art to construct the Nellie Bly Monument on the northern end of Roosevelt Island at Lighthouse Park. The sculptural installation will be known as “The Girl Puzzle” and invites the viewer to experience many facets of Nellie Bly’s talent, conviction and compassion. The ground-breaking journalist and women’s rights advocate exposed the horrors of the Blackwell Island Insane Asylum in 1887 on Roosevelt Island.
Unveiling will be held on Friday, December 10, 2021 starting at Noon in Lighthouse Park. The monument unveiling will coincide with Human Rights Day, illuminating women who have endured hardship.
Can’t make the unveiling? Turn on CBS Saturday Morning on December 11th for a special segment with Natalie Fields and Cutia Bacon Brown.
Above and below are a few images of work in progress.
Nellie Bly has arrived in New York City once more, and this time she is being venerated on a monumental scale. Bly was a champion for marginalized women who had no voice or prominence in society. The Girl Puzzle Monument honors her by continuing her legacy and giving needed visibility to Asian, Black, Young, Old, Immigrant, and Queer women. The installation includes Nellie Bly and the faces of many women who have endured hardship but are stronger for it.
“I am proud of the selection committee’s dedication to choosing such a passionate artist to honor the accomplishments of a woman who was truly ahead of her time,” said Susan Rosenthal, President and CEO of RIOC. “The committee, made up of RIOC employees and community leaders, unanimously selected this bold installation that will not only represent Nellie Bly’s time here, but her impact on the world.”
The installation will allow the viewer to enter a long walkway where they will encounter four, seven- foot-tall female faces, representing different ages and ethnicities, cast in bronze. A fifth face at the far end of the walkway will represent Nellie Bly. 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.”
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) was created in 1984 by the State of New York as a public benefit corporation with a mission to plan, design, develop, operate, and maintain Roosevelt Island. With a focus on innovative and environmentally friendly solutions, RIOC is committed to providing services that enhance the island’s residential community. RIOC manages the two-mile long island’s roads, parks, buildings, a sports facility, and public transportation, including the iconic aerial tramway. Additionally, RIOC operates a Public Safety Department that helps maintain a safe and secure environment for residents, employees, business owners, and visitors.
Prometheus Art is a design/build firm owned and operated by Amanda Matthews and Brad Connell. The award-winning artists partnered in 2009, designing and building large-scale, site-specific public art that creates great “Third Place Spaces,” where public art, the environment, and community engagement intersect. Clients have included universities, municipalities, corporations, architects, engineers, the U.S. Government and the U.S. Department of Defense. For more information, please visit PrometheusArt.com
Named by Smithsonian Magazine as The Must-See Outdoor Art Installation. There are no plans to remove the installation as of this date (July 2023).
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