The Association for Public Art (aPA) presents Maren Hassinger’s Steel Bodies at the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial in Philadelphia. Steel Bodies offers a restorative and inspiring message centered on shared humanity. It is the first contemporary public art exhibition at the historic memorial.
Juxtaposed against the formal, terraced garden setting and existing figurative artworks, Hassinger’s sculptures invite viewers to engage with the memorial in unexpected and poetic ways. Ten metal sculptures are refined, minimal constructions suggestive of three-dimensional, differentiated line drawings in the landscape. Inspired by iconic ancient vessel archetypes, the sculptures simultaneously reveal both the inside and outside of vessel forms which articulate the surrounding environment. Nothing is private or hidden from view in these open “steel bodies” that encourage the viewer to engage with them through shared public space that vividly connects art and nature. According to Hassinger, “if we can share the sky, we can share other things.”
Steel Bodies provides opportunities to reflect on spirituality and the ways that art can transform perspectives about history, humanity and equity. Instead of dwelling on our differences, Hassinger encourages us to think positively about what we share in common. Though each sculpture is unique with varying sizes and shapes, they each symbolically accept, contain, and protect. With these artworks the artist suggests, “We are ALL vessels capable of compassion, and we are all equal. We share our humanity.”