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2011         12’ diameter 18’ high

material: aluminum plate/ stainless steel cable
research and development: Rob Haimes, Cambridge, MA
fabrication: Bob's Welding, Jamaica Plain, MA
CAD modeling: Michael Born, Boston, MA
waterjet cutting: Metalsmiths, Boston, MA
architect: Zimmer Gunsul Frasca, Washington, D.C.
site: Yawkey Center for Cancer Care / Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
commissioned by the Friends of Dana Farber
photographs by Will Howcroft

Twin themes of meditation and diversion are embodied in Human Nature, a suspended sculpture for the lobby of the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care.

Scores of fine cables descend from the ceiling of the new building, holding a variety of gently curved leaf forms that collectively define a cylindrical cascade. One’s first impression of the artwork is of a pastoral New England autumn, evidenced by an abundance of bright natural colors. But other orders of perception soon assert themselves.

From the first floor looking up, the seemingly freeform composition orders itself into ascending concentric circles, creating a three dimensional mandala. The rings themselves have specific themes, the bottommost illustrating the aquatic realm, the one above shore life, and progressing through arboreal and avian realms. Collectively, they create a “core sample” of New England flora and fauna.

From the more intimate perspective of the second floor balconies one observes that not all the components conform to predictable “natural” contours. The edge of a birch leaf becomes an outline of Boston’s Back Bay skyline. The stem of a red oak morphs into a silhouette of local icon Isabella Stewart Gardner. Twelve atypical allusions to the signs of the zodiac encircle the uppermost reaches of the sculpture. The array of local cultural references ranges from Gehry’s Stata Center at MIT to the Gloucester Fisherman’s Monument.

Allusions and gentle mysteries abound, with over a hundred embedded natural and manmade images awaiting discovery.

At once serious and sly, Human Nature aims to promote contemplation on several levels, creating a kaleidoscopic sculptural array in which viewers can find esthetic engagement and intellectual stimulation.


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