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North Carolina Museum of Art installs interactive play structure, head sculptures in museum park
Jaume Plensa, Awilda & Irma, 2014, stainless steel, H. 157.5 x W. 157.5 x D. 118 in. each, © J2017 Jaume Plensa, Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York. Installation view: Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape, Cheekwood Museum and Sculpture Garden, Nashville, TN, May 22–November 1, 2015; Photo: Dean Dixon.

RALEIGH, NC.- This spring the North Carolina Museum of Art added two new works of art to its 164-acre Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park. Jaime Hayon’s SCULPT. C—an interactive, colorful, pig-shaped play structure featuring a slide sized for children—has been installed and is permanently located in the Museum Park’s new Discovery Garden. Jaume Plensa’s Awilda & Irma—a pair of monumental steel mesh sculptures shaped like human heads—has been installed and is located along the Park’s new Promenade walkway on long-term loan.

“After the completion of our Park expansion project last fall, we hope to continually add new works of art to our outdoor spaces—both permanent and temporary—to engage our community, inspire creativity and new experiences, and further our mission of connecting art, nature, and people,” says Dan Gottlieb, director of planning, design, and the Museum Park at the NCMA. “These two sculptures could not look more different, but they will both fit into the Park landscape perfectly: one adding an element of playfulness and color, and the other bringing a surreal, dream-like presence.”

Adds Linda Dougherty, NCMA chief curator and curator of contemporary art: “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to display these significant works of art by two international artists in the NCMA Park. The Hayon pig will be a perfect stop for families and young children, and we look forward to seeing our visitors truly interact with the work of art and surrounding Discovery Garden. The Plensa heads—hard to miss at an impressive 13 feet tall and located near our main visitor parking lot—will welcome our visitors as they walk the Promenade either into the galleries or out into the Park.”

Jaime Hayon, SCULPT. C, 2016, painted wood and metal, H. 117.3 x W. 288.2 x D. 94.1 in., Gift of the family of Bill and Holly Blanton
Location: NCMA Park, Discovery Garden

SCULPT. C is one in a series of large-scale whimsical sculptures titled Tiovivo (which translates as carousel or merry-go-round) by Spanish artist Jaime Hayon. Covered with a colorful design and scaled for children, his engaging sculpture of a giant red and white, zigzag-patterned pig encourages play and interaction.

SCULPT. C comes to its new home at the NCMA from the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, where it has been on view for the past year. The High commissioned Jaime Hayon to create a series of four works, Tiovivo, for their outdoor plaza area in 2016. The giant, cartoon-like characters, including a pig, teddy bear, and bell, are all decorated with brightly colored stripes, polka dots, and zigzags, and designed specifically for children (continued)

Based in Madrid, artist/designer, Jaime Hayon works in a wide range of media, from designing sculptures and murals to furniture, lighting, and interiors of restaurants, hotels, and stores. Blurring the boundaries among art, design, and architecture, his finely crafted works enliven and activate their spaces with a playful sense of whimsy and joy.

Jaume Plensa, Awilda & Irma, 2014, stainless steel, H. 157.5 x W. 157.5 x D. 118 in. each, On loan from the collection of Stuart Miller, Miami.
Awilda & Irma, two larger-than-life heads, are portraits of a mother and daughter, each depicted with their eyes closed, facing each other and caught in an unspoken dialogue. Their serene, contemplative faces radiate with emotion and intimacy. The enormous scale of the heads blurs and softens individual features, making it difficult to discern race or age or gender, resulting in universal portraits.

These sculptures, though named for the people who modeled for the artist, are not intended to represent specific individuals. For Plensa they represent a collective human identity, and he wants his sculptures to speak to what we hold in common as human beings: an essential human existence and the universal bonds that join us and hold us together. Instead of an exterior portrait, Plensa presents us with an interior portrait of a person, capturing the intangible essence or soul of a person. In his words, portraits “have the capacity to express the soul of the person, to express the amazing contents that we have inside, our experiences, our memories, everything.”

Jaume Plensa’s monumental steel mesh sculptures have a dreamy, ethereal quality. Seemingly fragile, transparent, and weightless, they disappear into the surrounding landscape when the light is just right.

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