Leonardo Drew: City in the Grass
Mississippi Museum of Art
26/09/20 - 21/02/21
The Mississippi Museum of Art is presenting Leonardo Drew: City in the Grass, a participatory, public art sculpture that invites viewers to engage directly with the work, the space it occupies, and one another while maintaining a social distance. The Brooklyn, NY-based artist considers the work complete when people interact by sitting, standing, and walking on or around it, disrupting the “do not touch” directive at most public art installations and sculpture parks.
On view September 26, 2020–February 21, 2021 in the Museum’s Art Garden, City in the Grass (2019) is the first outdoor sculpture by Drew whose practice incorporates tactile materials like wood, metal, and canvas he distresses by hand. Exposed to the weather, physical use, and the passage of time, the sculpture—measuring over 100 feet long and 30 feet wide—is intended to degrade naturally, connoting life cycles and the potential for regeneration.
Undulating aluminum waves painted with vividly colored sand evoke a Persian carpet in motion, suggestive of a magic carpet ride enabling viewers to participate as artistic collaborators by imagining their own journeys. The waves are punctuated with three skyscraper-like towers reminiscent of the Empire State Building’s spire, each with a unique surface treatment. Mosaics of wooden blocks form a miniature cityscape encircling each 16-foot tower and providing a bird’s eye view perspective. The artist intends for viewers to imagine being giants like Gulliver, the hero of Jonathan Swift’s 1726 satire, in fictional Lilliput. Voids in the surface of the “carpet” allow grass to grow through them creating tiny parks within the sculpture’s borders.