January 14, 2012 § 17 Comments

There’s a sculpture in the Chesterfield City Park. I’ve not liked it since it “broke ground” in 2009. “The Awakening” by Seward Johnson is 70 feet long and 17 feet high at its tallest point (top of the hand, above).

Nope, didn’t like it until the other morning when I walked around it and between it. In the meantime, kids and parents were there, talking, playing, climbing on it (the little ones) and then heading on toward the literal park playground.

I spent an hour there ’til my fingers turned numb and my coffee turned cold but everything changed in that time, that is, the sunlight and the space around the sculpture. And my impression.
It’s a fine place and space.
Can you feel it?


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§ 17 Responses to

  • Bella Rum says:

    Art and our reaction to it is an interesting thing. I remember when the public design competition was held for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. There was much controversy over the black cut-stone masonry wall before it was even completed, even before construction had begun. It is not your typical war memorial, but when I visited it, I realized that the addition of people to the scene, the tokens that are left at the wall and all those names on the wall contribute to a reverential feeling that emanates from the space. People stroll along the wall and take the time to contemplate. I think that’s part of what public art can do.

    • oh says:

      You’re right. Hearing about an art installation and actually being there are two completely separate things. My first reaction to the Wall was really, that’s it? And then I got there.

      Actually, the one pictured here (The Awakening) IS pretty weird when taken in pieces. But up close and also, in thinking about how it was created, changes it. Still I’ll take something like the Statue of Liberty…or IM Pei’s pyramid.

  • Typehype says:

    I would’ve loved to have witnessed its disinterment in D.C. and “re-planting” in MO; the arrangement, as it progressed, of its dismembered body parts. Were you able to see any of that or was the construction site all boarded up? At first sight, the sculpture is off-putting, I agree; kind of like visiting Brobdingnag in “Gulliver’s Travels!” Creepy and strange. Traversing all that negative space with your own flesh-and-blood body must have been a powerful experience. Personally…? I would have buried the head.

    • oh says:

      Dear T – I had to laugh when you said “bury the head.” I think you might be right. It would heighten the claustrophobic thing yet at the same time, might be more optimistic, have more movement.
      I dunno.

      I made friends with it at least and took a picture of it with my cup of coffee in the hand (on the ground). But it wasn’t worth showing,even for scale. It just looked dumb.
      Overall, for its size and idea, it’s impressive. Might teach me to think bigger.

      Oh, no, I missed seeing it installed. In fact, didn’t even know it was happening ’til one day I drove by and there it was. I know – pathetic. But it’s tucked into a place that you have to purposely go – not at all an accidental route.

  • Bree says:

    Wow what a sculpture. I love it and would love to see it in person.

    • oh says:

      It’s impactful, Bree. No kidding, if you ever come this way, we’ll tour the sculptures of STL – we have many, actually though the installation of this one might be one of the more impressive in terms of size and concept.

      OK, except for the Arch!!!!

  • ds says:

    That is intense–also a bit scary. But most interesting.

  • shoreacres says:

    This is not a sculpture for anyone who has even the teeniest bit of claustrophobia – which I think I do. I’d like to see the whole installation in person before judging, but from your photos, it makes me anxious and uncomfortable.

    Now, it may be that the artist was hoping for exactly that response. But it’s not something I’d visit on a regular basis. He calls it “Awakening” – I see “Buried Alive” or “Disinternment”. Hmmmm….

    • oh says:

      Aha! that’s what I thought, too, at first (the buried alive thing).
      But once you’re here and looking at it, it will shift. I gotta say, the leg is done nicely.

      So I looked at the mermaid, the one in Hamburg. I think it’s fabulous. Unlss the water rises, that is, and threatends to cover her mouth and/or nose. Then it would be creepy.Love the color. Didn’t know of course that it existed – thanks for that link!

  • shoreacres says:

    I found it! This public sculpture in Hamburg is a bit more to my liking!

    The Giant Mermaid

  • Heather says:

    Okay, little bit disturbing.

    • oh says:

      uh huh. Next time you’re here, we’ll go over there and see what you think in person. I think my photos are creepier than the real thing. Along with the sunlight that day, that is. It’s title saves it.

  • litlove says:

    When I was a child and I had a fever, I used to dream that my hands were growing bigger and I couldn’t stop them. It was terribly upsetting and I confess I haven’t got on well with big hands ever since! But the idea of the sculpture is very interesting, and probably for kids who see the dad-on-the-beach side of it, quite fun.

    • oh says:

      Dear LL – never thought of what the kids might see, as you mention the “dad-on-the-beach” side of it! Great idea.

      Yes, this sculpture resonates with things scary and claustrophobic and je ne sais quoi…. I blame some of that on the photos I took (and the lighting) but one of the great things about art is the responses it incurs.

      Basically, it’s on such a big stretch of open ground, that from a distance, you see the hand and go “what? What is that?”

      Don’t we just love art?!

  • Care says:

    Wow – that IS kinda creepy. (I like it.)

  • aubrey says:

    Art or a plaything? I would like to walk amongst the appendages, to see what use it made of the space; it does, however, seem like the perfect anatomy for a jaunt.

    I also think the face should be hidden. Nameless limbs punching through the ground would lend themselves very well to the alarmed imagination.

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