My “New Growth” Sculptures were installed recently at Drew University. It was a fantastic setting for these sculptures and great opportunity, but one funny thing happened right after installation. Before the cement was dry on the palm tree, someone had stolen it.
Of course I took this as a misplaced sign of approval – pilfering is a complement whereas vandalism is the opposite.
After a campus-wide email (the digital equivalent of LOST/REWARD posters), one half of the sculpture was returned anonymously – It was left in a parking lot, propped against the car of an administrator. (Each tree is made up of two sides, front and back.) I recreated the missing side using the returned half as reference, and all was well.
I recently heard the podcast episode “Palm Reading” on the fantastic podcast 99% Invisible regarding palm theft (which is apparently a thing….some live palms are worth up to 20K!) and also an analysis of what palms signify in our culture.
[Orientalist Study, Figures by the Water, Egypt (c. 1890) by A. Marchettini]
The Spirit of Elsewhere….the Holy Land…Exoticism…Orientalism….Luxury and Leisure….
What New Jersey college student wouldn’t want an occasional taste of these things, all evoked by this particular species of plant.