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South Slope sculpture on display with a COVID-19 reminder

South Slope sculpture on display with a COVID-19 reminder
Wake, Mel Chin’s giant animatronic sculpture, installed in New York City’s Times Square last summer, is now on display in Asheville’s South Slope with a COVID-19 appropriate mask. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Wake, Mel Chin’s giant animatronic sculpture, installed in New York City’s Times Square last summer, is now on display in Asheville’s South Slope with a COVID-19 appropriate mask.

The 60-foot-long, 24-foot-high piece was engineered and sculpted by a team of UNC Asheville students, faculty, staff and community artists led by Chin.

The statue is a wooden replica of the USS Nightingale shipwreck with the figurehead opera singer Jenny Ling.

Originally, the installation was commissioned as part of Mel Chin: All Over the Place, a multi-site survey of his works from across many decades that took place in several New York City locations. It was designed to bring attention to climate change and the impact rising seas will have. Times Square visitors could see the area flooding, with ships passing above them and the shipwrecked Wake in their path.

Now back in Asheville, the context is shifted to the impact around climate change persuaded migration would drive those fleeing rising floodwaters to the mountainous regions in the country.

Curators say the addition of the COVID-19 mask protective accessory is about encouraging people to think: What should I do?

“It makes a powerful statement and it’s a powerful addition to the piece, especially as we do ask those questions of what can we do and wearing a face mask in public when we go to the grocery store or go for a walk is one of the simplest things we could possibly do right now, ” said UNCA STEAM Studio Director Sara Sanders.

Visitors can experience Wake daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 44 Collier Avenue in Asheville.

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