"I'm already against the next war", said a t-shirt on a serious-faced man in downtown Philadelphia. I thought... why not talk about radically believing in peace?
In this "Art with a meaning" series, I will try to bridge that gap between the intention of the artist, and interpretation by the public. This space can unite students, art lovers, and artists through appreciation of an idea.
Skylanding is a combination of visual and performance art piece, created by Japanese artist Yoko Ono, which was first performed in Chicago's Jackson Park in 2016. The piece consists of a large, lotus-shaped sculpture made of steel and earth, surrounded by a garden of native plants. The sculpture is meant to symbolize the hope for peace and healing in a world torn apart by violence and conflict.
Art critics have praised Skylanding for its powerful message and striking visual impact. In a review for the Chicago Tribune, art critic Steve Johnson wrote, "It is a genuinely uplifting experience, the kind of public art that can bring a sense of hope and joy to those who encounter it." Similarly, in an article for the New York Times, writer Jane L. Levere described the piece as "a poignant symbol of healing and peace."
Yoko Ono's power as a performance artist is her ability to set meaning in the visuals, but also in words: "We all need to heal the wounds of war, violence and hate. We need to remember that we are one family, one world, and that each of us has a part to play in creating a peaceful future." The artist has also described the sculpture as a "gift" to the people of Chicago, as a way of celebrating the city's cultural diversity and promoting unity and understanding.
In addition to its message of peace, Skylanding has also been praised for its innovative use of materials and its integration with the surrounding landscape. In a review for Artforum, writer Matt Morris praised the piece for its "subtle integration of earth, steel, and organic plantings." He also noted that the sculpture's lotus shape was a reference to Buddhist teachings about the potential for enlightenment and growth, further emphasizing the piece's message of hope and renewal. Personally, the first time I saw the photo, it reminded me of Stonehenge, and the long quest of humanity to observe celestial bodies.
Overall, Skylanding is a powerful and thought-provoking work of performance art that has touched many people with its message of peace and healing. As critic Steve Johnson wrote in his review, "If public art is supposed to uplift the soul, this one succeeds beautifully."
Yoko Ono, female visual and performance artist
"Skylanding", with open petals, suggests a welcoming from the sky
Dancers during unveiling of the sculpture
Petals during fabrication - photo by Vector the Art of Fabricating