Guy Tedesco ’80 has more ideas for blessing the world with beautiful sculptures than he has the funding to create them. But he continues to promote his work, his proposals, and his art in hopes he will be able to bring his ideas to life. He realizes he’ll likely always be a “starving artist,” he said, but he can’t help but create.
His next project will take him to south China to Chengdu, where he will create a life-size pegasus with a 20-foot wingspan as part of the city’s efforts to integrate art into its park system. Tedesco is still negotiating the details but expects to travel to China in a few weeks to create the original for the art piece that will become a bronze statue crafted by Chinese artisans.
Typically, such a project would take about three years, with Tedesco following the creation of the original with a mold, a wax casting, a second mold, and then the final metal casting. But Chengdu wants the project completed sooner and will have its artists do much of the creation under Tedesco’s occasional supervision with the target unveiling in November.
“This project is on China time,” he joked.
Tedesco is one of about 40 artists from around the world who were invited to submit projects as part of Chengdu’s sister cities program, which connects the city to Louisville. He said he chose the Pegasus because it is an international symbol of rebirth and advancing to the future, representing the ancient Chinese city’s recent modernization, and Louisville’s heritage.
The sculpture will be cast of stainless steel in order to give it a white look and to provide structural integrity as the horse’s small ankles support the long wings in all manner of weather, including wind. He will also use bronze accents on the mane and tail and resin in the feathers to create a rippling color effect. The base will contain relief images representing Chengdu’s and Louisville’s histories, including likely images of buffalo, American Indians, horseracing, and the medical field, Tedesco said.
As exciting as it sounds to create a project in China, like many of his projects, the payment he is negotiating will likely barely cover his costs. But he hopes that media coverage of his work will help him get future work and funding for his project ideas. He also is planning to start a speaker series as another way to pay his bills while he seeks funding and works on other projects.
“This is fitting in with my overall plan at the moment,” Tedesco said.
One upcoming project is a statue of the late Cardinal Joseph Ritter, who was born in New Albany, became a bishop of Indianapolis and St. Louis, and was named Indiana’s only cardinal. The project will represent Cardinal Ritter’s efforts to desegregate Catholic schools – decades before public schools – and unify people of different races and faiths.
That project will depict Cardinal Ritter with three children, one with the cardinal pushing over a glass wall, and the other two children burying the glass blocks engraved on one side with negative words to allow the positive words on the other side to face up. Tedesco said he hopes to involve Providence students on the project in some way. He often invites others to contribute to his projects, from a Louisville Presbyterian church whose members created small glass crosses that joined together to form one large cross to handprints that became part of the Stations of the Cross at Norton Audobon Hospital.
Fundraising for the project hasn’t started, but Tedesco said he is so confident that it will be financially supported that he plans to start work soon “on the faith that it’s going to happen.”
Tedesco said it’s a project that needs to happen for several reasons, the most important being the need to teach the world about Cardinal Ritter’s contributions, which also include his efforts with Vatican Council II. He hopes that project will have four reproductions in cities representative of Cardinal Ritter’s service, including at the Cardinal Ritter Birthplace museum in New Albany, Cardinal Ritter High School in Indianapolis, in St. Louis, where he served as cardinal, and at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., the founding of which he supported.
Tedesco also hopes to do another project for the Catholic church, one he has dreamed of since he was a child. This project would allow people to pray the Rosary while also encountering the humanness of Mary, the Mother of God. He would depict Mary at various ages for each of the four sets of mysteries – for the Joyful Mysteries, a young, joyful Mary; the Luminous Mysteries, a proud middle-aged mother; the Sorrowful Mysteries, “an intensely sad woman;” and for the Glorious Mysteries, “a beautiful old woman sitting quietly with wisdom in her eyes.”
The images of Mary, who despite living a simple life became one of the most well-known and thus “the most powerful woman in history,” would allow people to empathize, be inspired, and meditate, he said.
“This celebrates the entire life of this woman,” Tedesco said. “I want people to see how just living your life according to who you are is what makes you powerful.”
Tedesco hopes the images will one day be placed at the new St. Pope John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C. St. John Paul II had a fierce devotion to Mary, especially after the failed attempt on his life, so Tedesco sees it as the perfect home for the sculptures. He hopes another set will go to the Vatican.
For now, the project – and several others – are simply ideas. Tedesco said he will keep talking to people who are likely to be able to initiate fundraising efforts. He knows these projects will be important pieces and touch many people for years and years to come, so he will keep creating, working, marketing, and speaking.
He looks to the inspiration of St. Francis of Assisi, who as a young man made poor choices and then became the world’s most well-known saint.
“He was a human person who decided to live an extraordinary life,” Tedesco said. “We can make those choices.”
Tedesco hopes he can convey the lessons he learned from studying the saint’s life in some way in all his artwork, especially his spiritual pieces.
“Those are teaching moments of artwork, allowing these figures to be human” so others can empathize and be inspired, he said.
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