This summer public art projects around the city will transform select parks into outdoor art oases. Case in point: Model to Monument (M2M), a sculptural exhibit opening today in Riverside Park South on the Upper West Side–all the sculptures for the installation were built at Serret Metal Works in Gowanus.
Each year M2M trains a group of eight students from Art Students League in the fine art of building and installing sculptures for its public-art program in collaboration with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. “The rigorous, boot-camp experience the sculptors go through yields results that not only prepare them for a professional life, but enliven the community with an array of highly creative, well-constructed monumental sculpture designed to serve the public,” says Ira Goldberg, executive director of Art Students League.
The eight artists are tasked with marrying their own imaginations to the project’s theme, which is The Public Square: The Role and Responsibility of the Artist, this year.
“At some point I felt dropped in the middle of a jungle where I have to prove that my survival skills were good enough,” says Beñat Iglesias Lopez, whose sculpture, Bathers, a modern-day evocation of the parks-centric works of French painter Georges Seurat, was inspired by historical photos he found of people in swimsuits along the Hudson River. “The viewers [must] be the ones who come up with their own conclusions.”
Anna Kuchel Rabinowitz created a two-piece sculpture consisting of a park bench tethered to a buoy. Her work encourages viewers to think about the probability and effects of rising tides, particularly after Hurricane Sandy. Rabinowitz interviewed visitors in and around the park; their quotes are inscribed on the buoy piece, Preservation: A Wonderful Life.
Wave, Anne Stanner’s installation, references the striped bass, and the history of the park. Activists, fighting the potential threats to the fish’s Hudson River habitat, helped end Robert Moses’s Westway highway project, and instead created Riverside Park South.