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.
“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. Construction of the installation is scheduled to be completed in late 2021.
“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, we look forward to an unveiling date later in 2021.
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Check out artist Amanda Matthews in her interview by Mats Lasse Jangås for his upcoming documentary on journalist Nellie Bly on his podcast, Portrettpodden.