Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mattie Stepanek Remembered

DDI Art Services Director, Harry Abramson, with the finished bronze sculpture by Jimilu Mason

On Saturday, October 18, 2008, the memory and message of poet and peacemaker Matthew “Mattie” Stepanek was honored in Rockville, MD, at a dedication ceremony for the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park. The park includes a 26-acre recreational facility and is located in the King Farm community of Rockville, MD. Mattie had been diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy at a young age, but published five best-selling books of poetry espousing peace before his death in 2004, shortly before his fourteenth birthday. The dedication ceremony was attended by hundreds of people, including Oprah Winfrey, and during the ceremony, a life-sized sculpture of Mattie, whose personal motto had been, "think gently, speak gently, live gently,” was unveiled.

When Virginian artist and sculptor Jimilu Mason became involved with the Mattie Stepanek memorial project, she came to Direct Dimensions for help. She wanted her sculpture of Mattie to be very lifelike, and that included getting his wheelchair just right. Harry Abramson, the director of DDI’s Art Services Team, spoke about our involvement in the project. “Of all sculptural projects, this was a unique use of our technology because it was one where we helped to provide the artist with scaled reference material. Clearly, Jimilu had a vision of what she was trying to do, with extreme attention to detail, and we were able to bridge the gap between her artistic methods and our technology.”

DDI scanned the wheelchair, and the data from that scan was processed to produce a digital file suitable for milling. This allowed Jimilu to incorporate a dimensionally accurate of Mattie’s wheelchair into her finished sculpture, which was cast in bronze. As the project was completed, Harry went on to say, “Mattie moved thousands of people with his approach to life and words… it is amazing that those people he touched were collectively inspired to make a monument so his spirit could continue to affect others.”

For more information about the dedication ceremony, please visit