American artist Joseph Menna commissioned to make statue of Sardar Vallabhai Patel in Gujarat

Statue to be almost 600 feet tall.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: Joseph Menna, an American artist and sculptor has been commissioned by an Indian organization to make a statue of Sardar Vallabhai Patel.

Joseph Menna (courtesy of the US Mint)
Joseph Menna (courtesy of the US Mint)

The statue is meant to be part of a large, $400 million complex in the Indian state of Gujarat, according to Philly.com. The statue itself will be an astonishing 597 feet tall, in addition to a 60-foot tall base – making it roughly two-thirds the height of the Eiffel Tower. A campaign has been struggling for years to build a memorial to Patel, and has finally hired Menna to help them see that vision realized.

Patel, who lived from 1875-1950, was a renowned Indian politician and one of the first leaders of the Indian National Congress. Considered one of the nation’s founding fathers, he was born Vallahbhai Jhaverbhai Patel, but was normally addressed as Sardar as a term of respect. Patel was India’s first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, and was known by several nicknames, including the “Iron Man of India.”

There are already several institutions and physically smaller monuments dedicated to Patel throughout India, including the Sardar Vallabhai Patel National Memorial in Ahmedabad, the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, and the Sardar Vallahbhai National Institute of Technology in Surat, but this sculpture will be the biggest memorial to the late Indian leader by far, and will immortalize his contributions to the founding of the nation for generations to come.

Now, Philadelphia-based Menna, 44, will have the chance to make history, creating a historically large memorial to a historic Indian statesman. Menna currently works for the US Mint, where he has spent several years designing coins with the likenesses of some of America’s most famous deceased Presidents. Before that, he was widely renowned for his sculptures of comic-book characters and figures of fantasy and mythology.

Among his credits, on the US Mint’s official website, are the 2013 Presidential $1 Coins featuring Teddy Roosevelt, James Munroe, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson, and the Louise Braille Bicentennial Commemorative Coin. He’s also been the main sculptor behind several coins in the First Spouse Gold Coin series, and the Lincoln Bicentennial One-Cent Coin, which commemorated the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.

Additionally, Menna personally sculpted the medal given to President George W. Bush upon his re-election to his second term as President, and the Dalai Lama Congressional Gold Medal. He has also worked with some of the biggest names in toys and collectible merchandise, including Mattel, Hasbro, Fisher-Price, DC Entertainment’s DC Collectibles branch (the company behind Batman and Superman), and others.

There is no firm word yet on when Menna will officially begin working on the Patel sculpture. He is listed as currently employed by the US Mint, but there is no indication as to whether he will leave his current job to create the Patel sculpture, or will make time for it on the side.

To contact the author, email to deepakchitnis@americanbazaaronline.com

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