A mysterious glow drew me from 23rd Street into Madison Square Park. As I entered from the Southwest corner, I was welcomed by a field of glowing spheres on pedestals of various heights. The radiant Empire State Building a sentinel above them all.
Gazing Globes, a new installation by sculptor and landscape artist, Paula Hayes is now on display at the "west gravel" section of Madison Square Park. Hayes, known for her sculptural terrariums, instead enshrines vintage remnants of technology inside sealed fiberglass spheres. Glass vacuum tubes, transistor parts, shredded rubber tires and pulverized CDs (to name just a few of the elements) create fascinating landscapes when lit from beneath. The spheres are a fitting sculptural display for the Silicon Alley neighborhood.
I was surprised at the number of people viewing the exhibition on this cold and snowy evening. Like me, most were walking among the globes in quiet awe and wonder. I did hear a few whispered comments, "Cool!"and "What are they?" plus a louder exclamation of, "Junk in a bubble!". The globes are appreciated at various distances and angles.
The Gazing Globes that I am familiar with are primarily found in suburban gardens. Traditionally, they are used to reflect and accent a garden, mirroring the sky and landscape around it. Hayes sculpture combines the aesthetic of terrarium and snow globe while placed on a pedestal like a gazing globe.
Instead of being globes that reflect their surroundings, the glowing spheres cause me to reflect upon my surroundings. The woman who exclaimed that the globe was just, "Junk in a bubble" was shocked at the lack of easy beauty encased inside the sphere. It inspired her to look away. To look around her. I too look around. The Empire State Building changes color. Snowflakes are caught in the lamplight. A girl bundled in red laughs as her boyfriend leans in for a better view.
The technological detritus so artfully arranged inside each globe inspires this thought; the iPhone that I am using to photograph the installation, with its glass screen that I examine so closely, is also so much junk in a bubble.
I did love viewing this at night.
#gazingglobes, #paulahayes and #madsqart for more.
Madison Square Park
5th Avenue and 23rd Street
New York City
Now until April 19, 2015
Paula Hayes site here
Madison Square Park site here
Paula Hayes Reimagines a Victorian Totem - NY Times here
An Enchanted Global Invasion - Wall Street Journal here
Inside the Studio - Collectista here
Paula Hayes in her studio