On a rainy Saturday morning, five artists spoke to a gathering of around 30 people about public art in New Orleans. The panel discussion celebrated the installation of five new pieces of art for public display, courtesy of the Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition presented by The Helis Foundation: Kendall Island and Yaima and the Ball by Carole Feuerman; Ourglass by Dean Ruck; Crossroads by Greer Farris; and David by Boaz Vaadia. Feuerman, Ruck and Farris were among the artists who participated in the discussion, along with Martin Payton of Baton Rouge and Mia Kaplan of New Orleans.
Vulnerability was a theme that more than one artist discussed as relevant to their work. About her hyper-realistic sculptures of women swimmers, Feuerman explained her decision to depict one figure as leaning: "No matter how strong we are, we lean. We just can't do everything ourselves."
Another figure is seated, a position that Feuerman linked to the need for contemplation in this modern era. Ultimately, Feuerman expressed that her sculptures were open to personal interpretation, saying to the audience, "The swimmers tell a story… I hope you'll look at the pieces and they'll tell your story."
Ruck's sculpture, an abstract, hourglass-shaped piece composed of circular mirrored surfaces, similarly accommodates a variety of perspectives. Its message, Ruck hopes, will be "activated by its environment" as it reflects pedestrians, traffic, and weather. "I wanted people to have intimacy with [the sculpture]", Ruck said about composing the piece. "[They] might see themselves ten different ways, fragmented."
"To get a reaction is the point… that's the fun part for me," Farris said about displaying his work in a public space. Payton echoed the sentiment, saying, "To be able to shock someone's sensitivity, that starts the wheel rolling.
"Sometimes, 'What the hell is that?' is a great place to start."
· Poydras Corridor Sculptures [New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau]