Art Nerd New York | Los Angeles

Linda Cunningham’s Urban Oasis at Westchester Square in the Bronx

Amorphous forms hover in the traffic island near East Tremont Ave, beckoning pedestrians to approach and encounter an industrial ecosystem within the urban terrain. Twisted steel beams rise up among variegated styles of natural rock formations, re-imagining urban landscapes interspersed with natural and synthetic elements. Complementing the surrounding asphalt and elevated subway tracks, Linda Cunningham’s Urban Regeneration (1&2) inspire wonder in the thousands of pedestrians crossing these two traffic triangles near Westchester Square at East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx.

Urban Regeneration at Westchester Square

Urban Regeneration at Westchester Square (Linda Cunningham)

Created in partnership with the Department of Transportation, and with support from the Westchester BID, Cunningham has created a public art installation that speaks an urban vernacular. The installation is created by blending abstract steel beams with found rock formations, instilling the space with whimsy. The boulders, secured firmly into the ground amidst the disjointed steel structures, represent specimens from the three types of rock formations: sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic. These stones bring geology out from the classroom and into Bronx students’ everyday experience. Limestone from the Delaware river valley showcases large-scale sedimentary rock, while metamorphic quartz and igneous lava forms round out the diversity of geological styles accessible to site visitors. Complex sedimentary rocks formed underwater near the Florida Keys house tiny shell specimens, giving visitors a peek into the aquatic microcosm that normally remains out of sight. Passersby are invited to walk up to the “found” sculptures, interact with them, move through and around them and experience the forms’ textures. Urban Regeneration tackles public art with a new dimension: invoking a multi-sensory and interactive experience that seamlessly integrates the natural environment into the cityscape.

Urban Regeneration, Westchester Square

Urban Regeneration, Westchester Square (Linda Cunningham)

Cunningham began working with public art in New York City in the 1980s, creating large scale public work and exhibiting near the United Nations complex and Tribeca at West Broadway, among other sites. Her work expanded to incorporate steel beams up to twelve feet high while working in Germany, and she began contrasting these beams with large scale stone elements during the 1990s. What makes her work so different from other pieces of public art is the vibrant marriage of conceptual and abstract, of found object with Earth Art. A complex set of equations is present within the arrangement of the forms as well: the installation’s configuration has been determined to maintain an aesthetically pleasing effect while accommodating for the mobility impaired. Cunningham has taken her ideal of the “conceptual urban garden” and adapted its materials to speak to an urban population. Organic bends and curves are folded into industrial materials while natural rock formations correspond to the abstract shapes found in the steel beams. Charged with potential yet open for interpretation, Urban Regeneration is that rare variety of public art installation that manages to communicate a range of experiences to those who interact with it.

Through a partnership with the Department of Transportation, Urban Regeneration is on view through June 2015. Linda Cunningham’s work in public art and memorials, sculpture and installations can be explored at her website:  http://www.lindalcunningham.com/

 

Urban Regeneration close-up at Westchester Square (Linda Cunningham)

Urban Regeneration close-up at Westchester Square (Linda Cunningham)

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