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Pictured is a portion of `Unity in Diversity` by Muhammad Z Zaman.
Pictured is a portion of "Unity in Diversity" by Muhammad Z Zaman.

Artpark to present new public artworks


Thu, Sep 2nd 2021 10:30 am

Art installation ‘Murmuration’ by SO – IL

Wayfinding mural ‘Unity in Diversity’ by Muhammad Z Zaman
√ Plus, relaunch of “Sonic Trails” by Holladay Brothers / SoZo Artists

Artpark & Company will unveil two new public artworks: interactive installations "Murmuration” by SO – IL studio, and mural “Unity in Diversity” by Muhammad Z Zaman. Both pieces will be on display, free and open to the public, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10.

Murmuration” is designed by the Brooklyn-based architectural firm SO-IL led by internationally acclaimed architects Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu, Ted Baab, Andrew Gibbs and Ray Rui Wu.

Located on the lawn by the lower entrance of the park, the 25-foot high, 100-foot-by-80-foot print “Murmuration” is the largest scale installation at Artpark since “Omega” by Owen Morel in 1980. It consists of a constellation of metal frames suspended from six poles and wrapped in agricultural netting, giving the installation its distinct shape. The sculptural arrangement aims to evoke the form of a bird murmuration – a flock of birds momentarily suspended in midair. The canopy is interspersed with seating perches and other playful elements designed to encourage conversations, observation and awareness around biodiversity, extinction and cohabitation. Visitors are invited to perch alongside the birds in this outdoor mesh canopy.

A sculptural pavilion, in its title and concept, “Murmuration” directly advocates for conservation efforts for birds, reflecting on the loss of billions in recent decades and the terms this loss has for the future environment.

“Murmuration” is a gifted installation from the SO-IL studio and was recently migrated from its original location at the High Museum in Atlanta to its new home at Artpark. The installation of Murmuration at Artpark is funded by Charles E. and Mary A. Bauer Foundation and members of the Artpark & Company board of directors.

The lead architect on Artpark’s recently completed master plan, SO – IL (Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu) is the Brooklyn-based architectural firm founded by Idenburg and Liu in 2008. With their original voice, Idenburg and Liu help communities connect to their environments through collaboration and participation. SO – IL said meaningful architecture can develop out of the confluence of universal concepts and local specificities, engendering conversations around issues facing society today. For more information, visit http://so-il.org/.

“It’s really exciting and appropriate to install ‘Murmuration’ as another step in the transformation of Artpark,” Idenburg said. “ ‘Murmuration’ is conceived as a gathering space for various forms of life. The notion that Artpark will transform into a year-round venue for art, nature and culture is represented in this installation, which sits beautifully on the banks of the Niagara Gorge.”

Pictured is a portion of "Unity in Diversity" by Muhammad Z Zaman.

Artpark’s other public artwork this fall is Zaman’s “Unity in Diversity,” a weaving, colorful pathway using a unique calligraphic style. The carpet-like painting traverses the lower parking lot from the South Fourth Street entrance toward the box office, inviting visitors to walk safely and with a sense of wonder.

Buffalo-based Zaman is the 2021 summer artist-in-residence as part of the “Artpark Works” program funded by John R. Oishei Foundation and KeyBank in partnership with First Niagara Foundation. He specializes in urban art and calligraffiti. His script is deeply inspired by ancient practices while incorporating modern and urban techniques and influences. Zaman weaves a unique narrative that uses elements from each of three languages that have significant personal meaning – English, Bangla and Arabic. Bangla is his first language as a native of Bangladesh. English is the language of his time in the U.S. Arabic is the language of his Islamic religion.

Zaman quotes African American poet Audre Lorde: “It is not our differences that divide us, it is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”

Similarly, Artpark said “Unity in Diversity” is “an invitation of hope that humanity will be stronger with mutual connection and inclusiveness. The curiosity this painting elucidates is a nonfamiliar kind of reading. Its built-in, semifamiliarity, combined with multiple layers of joyful colors and patterns, shows the importance of mutual respect, despite the seeming impossibility of communicating or understanding each other.”

Zaman said, “I will never forget my experience painting this mural at Artpark. It was the first time for me to paint a path and not a wall and I have to say I had a wonderful time. I received some feedback from the people who were walking in the park, and this is something really special to me. They were attracted by the joyful colors and because they’ve never seen anything like it. They asked me about the message, and they were really happy and supportive, saying that the message is so important and that we all need it in our society nowadays.

“I also had the chance to show the mural to my own children, who were really happy and had so much fun running all over the painted path. This was a happy and joyful experience, having the chance to paint in such a beautiful and peaceful environment was really inspiring.”

Artpark & Company also will continue “Sonic Trails,” a visionary series of free site-reactive audio experiences presented in a mobile app designed by The Holladay Brothers in collaboration with major BIPOC voices: Rhiannon Giddens with Yo-Ma, DJ Spooky, Kronos Quartet, and recordings of local indigenous artists curated by Michele-Elise Burnett.

Each of the five experiences is curated and co-produced by SoZo Creative. The free app and site-activated sound experience takes the visitors on five distinct journeys on Artpark’s trails connecting them with the Niagara land, unique geology and legacy. For more information, visit https://www.artpark.net/sonic-trails.

Artpark offers free public Wi-Fi in the main areas of the park.

Bauer, Artpark’s board chair, said, “We are so fortunate to have Artpark in Western New York. Our latest installations are incredible. ‘Sonic Trails’ celebrates the magnificent beauty of Artpark’s natural setting. ‘Murmuration,’ a world-class interactive installation, lets us take time to reflect on biodiversity, extinction and cohabitation. Our newest public work, “Unity in Diversity,” speaks to our soul; it’s interesting pattern and flow lets us reflect how beautifully we are all connected.”

Artpark President Sonia Kozlova Clark said, “Just like the beauty of Artpark’s campus, our programming continues to evolve into the autumn season, giving space for diverse voices and boundless opportunities for imagination. With the stunning ‘Murmuration’ and evocative ‘Unity in Diversity,’ as well as the innovative and highly emotional sound art of ‘Sonic Trails,’ Artpark is thrilled to welcome everyone to the trails of the Niagara Gorge.”

More information on Artpark and upcoming events can be found at artpark.net.

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