The South African artist Daniel Popper, celebrated his first major exhibition in the United States. Not only has this been his first exhibition but it is also his largest ever located at The Morton Arboretum in Illinois.
The fascinating Human+Nature exhibition features five large-scale sculptures designed and created by Popper which looks like they are invading the 1,700-acre arboretum. His sculptures ranges from 15 to 26 feet tall, and as Popper stated, it “inspire awe as they connect people and trees.”
Popper is known for his incredible public art installations. This time he definitely proven that he didn’t hold back when it came to taking influence from the environment. His nature-inspired sculptured made from glass-reinforced concrete, wood, fiberglass, and steel, definitely speaks to the Arboretum's mission to connect visitors with trees and nature. Each sculpture is monumental yet strikes a strong emotional chord.
For instance, UMI which is derived from an Arabic word meaning “mother” or “my mother”, is a maternal figure gently cradling her bump and stands 20.5-foot-tall.
The mother figure is seemingly made from intertwined branches and appears to be caught in an intimate moment pondering her impending motherhood.
Another amazing giant sculpture is named Heartwood, which features a woman's face that is split into two pieces as leaves fluttering across her body.
The artist encourages visitors to walk through the middle as one side shows a human fingerprint and the other side a tree's heartwood. The heartwood of a tree includes its oldest annual growth rings, and symbolises the interconnectedness between people and trees.
Popper explained that, “Each sculpture has a story behind it, but I like to leave the questions about each piece a little bit open, so people can come and bring their own ideas to it. I want people to come here and ask questions of themselves about their relationship with nature.”
Popper described working at the Morton Arboretum to build and display his love for art as a privilege. “As an artist, I’ve always been interested in trees. We need to really acknowledge the importance of trees and what they give the planet, and how much more we can give to trees.”
The Human+Nature exhibition is scheduled to run for at least a year and is included with regular, timed admission tickets to The Morton Arboretum, which is located in Lisle, Illinois.