With her life-size sculptures, Icelandic sculptor Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir seeks to bring interactive art to the daily lives of Seattle citizens and visitors. Thirteen pairs of figures stand dispersed around the park, are seated on park benches, or mirror each other in silent conversation. CLICK ON IMAGE TO START SLIDESHOW.
SLIDESHOW: Friendly visitors from Iceland take over Westlake Park
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Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir's life-size statues appeared to be a hit with Westlake Park visitors even before Icelandic Ambassador Gudmundur Árni Stefánsson had a chance to officially open the installation on Wednesday, June 6. People milling around the park posed for pictured with the aluminum and cast iron figures, hugged them, and even dressed them up with hats and sunglasses.
Titled "Borders", the Westlake Park installation of 26 life-size sculptures is one of two cross-town exhibitions showcasing Icelandic sculptor Thórarinsdóttir this summer. Smaller figurines and photographs by Murray Head of the exhibition when New York City hosted Borders last year are on display at the Nordic Heritage Museum.
"It's nice to see art in Seattle's public parks," said Eric Nelson, CEO of the Nordic Heritage Museum. "This exhibit in Westlake Park is a great tickler for the museum. The exhibition at the museum is a wonderful way to get a more intimate interaction with Thórarinsdóttir's work."
"With her work, Thórarinsdóttir addresses humanity and cultural diversity and encourages us to interact with the art, which is a great thing for Seattle," said Deputy Mayor of Seattle Darryl Smith during the opening ceremony.
With her life-size sculptures, the artist from Seattle's sister city Reykjavik seeks to bring interactive art to the daily lives of Seattle citizens and visitors. Thirteen pairs of figures stand dispersed around the park, are seated on park benches, or mirror each other in silent conversation.
"For every pair there is one of each material; aluminum and cast iron, dark and light, two opposites," explained Thórarinsdóttir. "There is an unseen border between them and the viewer crosses the border, uniting the pair together. I hope the city of Seattle will embrace this exhibit. It feels like home here. It's an art-friendly city."
The 26 life-size figures are bolted into the ground and Thórarinsdóttir said that her art has always been respected by the public and she doesn't worry about graffiti or vandalism.
An artist for 35 years, Thórarinsdóttir is one of the best known Icelandic contemporary artists in and outside of Iceland, said Ambassador of Iceland to the United States Gudmundur Árni Stefánsso.
Thórarinsdóttir's work has been displayed all over Europe, Australia, Canada, and in New York City.
Seattle is the second city in the U.S. to host Thórarinsdóttir's Borders installation and it was made possible by a collaborative effort of Seattle Parks and Recreation, the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, and the Nordic Heritage Museum.
"People of Seattle will be the judge of this art but I'm sure your experience will not differ from mine as you walk around the statues. They will make you laugh and they will make you think," said Ambassador Stefánsso. "They are friendly visitors from Iceland."
The installation at Westlake Park and the exhibition at the Nordic Heritage Museum will be open through August 28, 2012.
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