Sunday, January 13, 2008

Financial District, Broadway at Wall Street

Mary Sargent © 2007 …………………………………….. click to enlarge

This sculpture is in the churchyard of Trinity Church and is a copy of the roots of a tree that was uprooted in the 9/11 attack.

The story briefly: A giant sycamore tree grew in the churchyard at St. Paul's Chapel at Broadway and Fulton Street. When it was uprooted, it fell in such a way that it protected the Chapel and the graveyard. Sculptor Steve Tobin made this to symbolize "our connectedness and our strength after the tragic events of September 11." For more details, go here.

All well and good say I, but do you get that from looking at this? It isn't enough to have a lovely concept; the sculpture also has to enbody the concept in some visual way – it has to look like it. I don't even get the idea of roots because trees don't stand on their roots. Roots are not legs. To me it looks like a giant monster spider and I do not get comfort from it.

Please tell me what you think in a comment. If everyone thinks I'm a philistine without a spirtual elbow to lean on, I'll take another look and try to better myself. I've already been thinking of taking up meditation.

See map.


Barbara said...

The sculpture is reminiscent of Louise Bourgeois’s spider, which she thought of as maternal - ambivalent and aggressive.

These roots speak to me more of death and destruction.

Anonymous said...

Hi mary,
I'm taking you up on your invitation to respond.
My reaction is to feel sad. Sad that this ancient,hugh, thriving tree toppled. The root system looks strong and was probably capable of providing nourishment for years to come. The narative doesn't console me. I mourn for the tree.
It's a clear objective photo, by the way, and lets the viewer draw her own conclusions.

b.lewin said...

Ugh, I just think it's bad art. And if he was attempting to pay homage to Bourgeois's spider, I think he missed the mark. The thing lacks any kind of grace at all.

Is the crown of thorns thing at the top supposed to represent martyrdom?

"...connectedness and strength"? It's simply creepy. And it's left me cranky and frustrated that it has a public venue, considering all the great art that doesn't get seen.

Bill said...

I think it looks like a really cool giant monster wooden spider, which is also probably not the intended message.

luka said...

I knew nothing of this sculpture, not often leaving the upper west side, and hardly ever going to that location after my dentist (who had an office near the church) retired. So it was a kind of startling thing to see. The first thing I thought of was a succoth (I don't know how you spell lt)--that hut you build outside for a week during the Jewish holiday. And I've always loved those structures. It's the kind of thing that, as a child, you might want to run inside and hide in--very safe and secret.

But I get what you all mean about spiders and monsters.