Sondra Jonson stood back among the crowd gathered at the 20th Century Veterans Memorial last week, as the latest bronze creation. "In Their Care, They Were There," was gently lowered onto its pedestal. The kneeling figure is the last sculpture finished by North Platte artist Ted Long before his death on March 6.
Jonson has been commissioned by the memorial committee to create two additional sculptures for the memorial.
Memorial committee member Jim Beckius contacted Jonson about completing the series of sculptures at the memorial, each representing a branch of the armed services.
In addition to "In Their Care, They Were There," Long had completed two of the six larger-than-life figures before his death. A fourth, that of a Marine at parade rest, was unfinished when Long died. His son, Patrick, will complete the sculpture.
Jonson is a native of Philadelphia, where her physician parents started taking her to art galleries and museums before she could walk.
"I knew I was going to be an artist by the first grade," Jonson said. "I don't think my parents were thrilled that I was going into art instead of medicine. It wasn't until recently that my mother finally stopped asking, 'Are you sure you don't want to go to medical school?'"
Jonson moved to Cambridge in 1994, after living in Las Vegas.
"I was looking for a rural area to raise my children," said Jonson, who has three sons. "I wanted a small community with a good school."
Planning to become a painter, Jonson attended Bryn Marr College, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Frudakis Academy of Art
in Philadelphia. After a visit to the studio of sculptor Donald DeLue, he encouraged her to study sculpture in order to further understand the form of her subjects. DeLue created the Omaha Beach
"(The Veterans Memorial project) is more than just nice art," Jonson said. "It has this great spirit, which is a monument in and of itself."
Jonson has created a number of religious works, including "Rachel Weeping for Her Children," which was selected Best in Show for 2004 by the American Mothers Association.
With plans to dedicate both veterans' sculptures on Veteran's Day in November, Jonson is on a tight time line. she begins by turning the concept into drawings, which she then translates into a steel frame, known as an armature. Jonson then uses steel netting draped over the frame to create the basic form. As clay is applied to the form, the likeness of a person begins to emerge.
"It is an honor to work on this project," Jonson said.
By Diane Wetzel
The North Platte Telegraph
— April 15, 2007
Cambridge artist Sondra Jonson poses next to the bust of George H.W. Bush she is currently creating for the former president's library. Jonson has been commissioned by the 20th Century Veterans Memorial to create two sculptures, representing the U.S. Air Force and the Coast Guard.
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