FREMONT, Ohio — Bigfoot is mostly known for trekking the forests of the western United States. But the hairy behemoth plans to chart new territory as well: the moon.
Dan Chudzinski, a northwest Ohio artist and sculptor, began his larger-than-life rendition of the classic folklore monster -- titled "Evasive Species" -- during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 when the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts tasked him with creating the art piece for an exhibit.
"The challenge was: can I do something in high resolution, hyper-realistic detail that when you approach it in a gallery it still makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up?" Chudzinski, who is also the curator of the Mazza Museum at the University of Findlay, said.
Initially, he wanted to create a 10-foot-tall sasquatch sculpture but later settled on just creating the creature's bust. He used 400 pounds of clay to make a mold, then finished the silicone exterior with paint and taxidermy hair, installing each hair by hand for three weeks.
After the initial exhibit, the finished sculpture won multiple best-in-show awards.
And, the sculpture recently won a top honor at the 16th International Art Renewal Center Salon Competition.
An image of Chudzinski's sculpture, a snarling, hairy man-beast baring its yellowed teeth and peering ahead with wolf-like eyes under protruding eyebrow muscles, will be etched into nickel microfilm and archived in a time capsule on the south pole of the moon as part of the Lunar Codex contemporary art archive initiative.
University of Findlay art instructor Spencer Cunningham took the photo that will be used.
"A photograph is a record," Cunningham said. "It carries information. It carries memories. So, to have one of those on the moon, who knows who is going to see it in subsequent decades, years, centuries."
Chudzinski said he is humbled by the honor and hopes his accomplishments as a local artist can inspire future artists in northwest Ohio.
"You want to create something that outlasts you, something that is meaningful," he said. Knowing now that I'll never be able to look at the moon the same way, I'll know that I did leave a mark there, a big footprint on the moon. That's pretty extraordinary."
The launch window to send the microfilm with the image of "Evasive Species" to the moon is slated for the fall or winter of 2023 during NASA's Griffin lunar lander mission in partnership with SpaceX.