CAMBRIDGE - Instead of what she calls “concrete and desert” in Las Vegas, artist Sondra Jonson of
Cambridge wanted greenery and the quiet of a small community in which to raise her sons and pursue her profession as a sculptor.
She and her sons moved to Cambridge in 1994. Since then, her career has thrived.
Jonson grew up in Philadelphia and studied art at Bryn Mawr College. Her plan was to paint until she visited the studio of noted sculptor Donald DeLue in Leonardo, N.J.
DeLue encouraged her to study sculpture. She would later discover sculpting was her calling in art.
Her works have been installed in public and private collections from Las Vegas to Washington, D.C. Her small bronzes appear in the Vatican and the White House.
Her workroom is dominated by a clay mold of Pope [Blessed] John XXIII, pope from 1958-1963. It was commissioned by the Lincoln Diocese and will be placed in the John XXIII Diocesan Center in Lincoln.
A steel frame, called an armature, was built for the statue's size and framework. Special steel netting was shaped about the armature to create the basic form of the statue.
“I filled the netting with foam - the same kind you can buy in a hardware store,” she said.
The foam becomes the core for the statue.
When the netting is satisfactorily shaped, the hard work begins. The core could be anyone, but as clay is applied over the core the likeness of a person begins to appear.
Jonson cuts, trims, adds more clay and rubs it to the exact outline displayed on the miniature. Slowly, the head acquires its shape.
The work takes several days.
When it is finished and ready for shipment to the foundry in Springville, Utah, the clay model of the pope will weigh 450 pounds, Jonson said. At the foundry, a bronze casting will be made in sections from the clay model, then welded together. Bringing the welded sections together and eliminating all signs of the welds requires craftsmanship, she said.
Her sculpture, “Rachel Weeping For Her Children,”recently was named Best in Show for 2004 by the American Mothers Association. The bronze statue has been on display since 1999 at St. Germanus Catholic Church in Arapahoe.
She is also sculpting a piece for Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Kearney. This work, portraying the infant Jesus, Mary and Joseph, will be set against a mosaic background to hang above the tabernacle.
Lincoln Journal Star
By Harry G. Perkins
— May 24, 2004
Copyright: U.S. copyright VAU 312-114
Sondra Jonson's bronze “Rebuilding Hope: Rachel Weeping For Her Children,” is on the grounds of St. Germanus Catholic Church in Arapahoe.
Hub photos by Harry G. Perkins
Sondra Jonson works on a life-size statue of Pope [Blessed] John XXIII in her Cambridge studio. The sculpture will be placed in the [Blessed] John XXIII Diocesan Center in Lincoln.
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