Civic Art

One Step for Mankind

One Step for Mankind

Click One Step for Mankind photo above for a full-sized wide version.

  • Location: Edge of Tranquillity Park, along Smith @ Rusk
  • Number: 0008
  • Artist: Savage, Naomi
  • Title: One Step for Mankind
  • Date: 1980
  • Type: Intaglio etching plates
  • Medium: Stainless Steel
  • Dimensions: Entire Piece: 90” x 68” x ½” 12 Plates: 22” x 22” each
  • Foundry/Fabricator: The Master Group and the Dickerson Company (Pennsylvania)
  • Location/Environment: Tranquillity Park, Outdoors
  • Provenance: Houston Chamber of Commerce

Historical Background

Subject
All artworks in Tranquillity Park are dedicated to Houston's space program and were produced under the aegis of the Houston Chamber of Commerce (coordinator, Helen Schmalz).

In 1978, Naomi Savage was selected by the Houston Chamber of Commerce's Parks Committee to create a significant piece of art that personified the importance of the first moon landing.

One Step for Mankind is an etched image rendered by 12, 22” x 22” intaglio etching plates. Intaglio is a term used to describe the printing of ink that lies in recessed, etched areas of the plate. Intaglio plates are manipulated using etching tools, chemical baths, and chemical grounds. These techniques cause a gray scale to emerge after the plates are inked and printed on paper using the pressure of a print press.

The printing result on paper would show the smooth areas of the plate printing lighter and coarser. The incised and uneven areas resulting in darker areas. At this time, there are no known prints of the plates making up One Step for Mankind.

Physical Description
One Step for Mankind is an intaglio wall installation composed of twelve, ½” thick steel, etched plates (22” x 22”) that are set in a stainless steel frame. The piece is mounted on a concrete wall between two inscribed black granite plaques.

The image Savage used was appropriated from an Apollo II negative of the actual historical flight.

The assembled steel plates depict an astronaut wearing a space suit, walking towards the foreground of the moon's surface, with his shadow falling to his front, on the lunar floor. The depiction of the rocky moon surface encompasses about ¾ of the picture plane, with the astronaut placed in mid-ground.

The Intaglio piece was covered in a certain type of ground, etched in an acid bath for a longer period of time, on several areas, which gave the lunar surface a rocky, uneven appearance. The areas that are smooth and polished were either burnished or protected by asphaltum while the acid bath ate through the metal.

Restoration / Conservation
Restoration was completed in June, 1996.