The public in public art

Fata Morgana is now on view at Madison Square Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Fata Morgana is now on view at Madison Square Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Martin Friedman  Senior Curator, Madison Square Park Conservancy

Public outdoor sculpture is a communal activity. During periods of art installation, visitors to Madison Square Park can watch a project unfold over days and weeks. People discuss their perceptions and ask questions of me, my colleagues at Madison Square Park Conservancy, the install crews, and the presenting artist. Oftentimes, park goers watch this process with a sense of wonderment and pride; I have seen groups of neighbors applaud an artist at key moments during a temporary work’s on-site creation. Once complete, the public role in public art is further revealed as people interact with the piece by walking around the sculpture, taking their lunch next to the work or considering the merits of the project in conversation with co-workers, friends and family.

Creating outdoor sculpture in an urban oasis like Madison Square Park is unlike any other art experience. In preparation for major shows, museums and galleries draw the curtain for behind-the-scenes activity. When the curtain is pulled back, an indoor exhibition is complete and camera-ready. There is great theatricality on the opening day. By contrast, in constructing public art in real time right before your eyes, people view almost cinematic progress as a sculpture is made.

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Madison Square Park debuts its largest sculpture installation yet

Fata Morgana began construction in March and will be completed in May. (Pictured) The canopy installation as seen this week (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Fata Morgana began construction in March and will be completed in May. (Pictured) The canopy installation as seen this week (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Mad. Sq. Art will debut a new installation in Madison Square Park officially opening in June that is planned to remain in the park throughout the rest of the year.

Fata Morgana, by New York-based artist Teresita Fernández, will be the largest outdoor sculpture from the Madison Square Park Conservancy and will consist of 500 feet of mirror-polished discs that create canopies over the pathways along the central lawn. The exhibit will run through January 10, 2016, which Mad. Sq. Art curator Brooke Rapaport said is to allow park visitors to interact with the piece throughout all four seasons.

“The idea is that it will change and transform visually so it’s always a different experience,” she said.

The project has been partially installed with some sections currently open, but the entire installation is expected to be finished by the end of May. The opening reception is planned for June 1.

The metal sculptures will hover over the walkways and are perforated with intricate patterns that resemble foliage and will create a glowing, flickering affect as the sunlight filters through the canopy. The Conservancy said that the installation is the first project from Mad. Sq. Art to fully make use of the upper register of a visitor’s space.

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