Walking up the Hudson River just got even more scenic — two new captivating art sculptures were unveiled yesterday. Artists Susan Markowitz Meredith and Helen Draves will have their artworks on display just north of the W59th Street entrance to Riverside Park. 

Riverside Park Art 2023
Susan Markowitz Meredith/s Life Dance in Riverside Park. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Susan’s sculpture, Life Dance, depicts three spirals sprouting and engaging in a “rhythmic dance,” intertwining with one another. Each spiral has transparent steps that serve as metaphors for growth.

“This piece wouldn’t be what it is without the interconnecting. It’s kind of an integration with the whole environment but also a metaphor on the nature of growth and that the spirals intertwining was very important to me, the message feels so important now that we are all interdependent, we are all connected,” said Susan.

Helen Draves’ sculpture Hope in Riverside Park. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The colors of the 11-foot-tall painted steel and plexiglass sculpture were chosen to complement the shades of the park. “If you look at it from underneath, it has its own flowing energy,” said the artist.

Helen Draves’ sculpture, Hope, features a face mask made up of smaller masks with messages written from all over the world and in different languages. Helen used social media to appeal for the messages, which she then placed on her artwork. The masks slowly transform into bluebirds soaring into the sky — representing hope and freedom.

“It’s a symbol of the resilience of the human spirit and a reminder of how art can facilitate healing, faster connection, and kindle a sparkle of hope even in the darkest of times,” said Helen, who began working on the piece during the pandemic, when her son was ill with pneumonia.

She was worried for her son and the rising death toll during the pandemic — and wanted to put those feelings into her artwork. “I was freaking out and then I was thinking, let’s do something with my work,” said Helen. “Then all my emotion, everything went into my work.”

Helen Draves Hope
Helen Draves speaking about her sculpture Hope in Riverside Park. Photo: Ariel Pachedo

“Having an artful New York City, giving people access to art, culture, and creativity is really the heart of a healthy and vibrant city,” said Laurie Cumbo, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. 

Helen Draves Hope
Helen Draves sculpture Hope is made up of smaller masks with messages from all over the world and in different languages. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The Works in Public project was founded in 2010 in partnership with NYC’s Department of Parks & Recreation to assist students in creating large-scale sculptures for outdoor public spaces, culminating in a year-long public exhibition at Riverside Park South. Both Susan and Helen are students at the Art Students League of New York who collaborate on this partnership.

Both Life Dance and Hope will be on display at Riverside Park for the next year. Two more projects will be unveiled in the Fall. 

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