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A 35-foot-tall Corten sculpture will touch down in the Rockaways

Beachside Sacrament

A 35-foot-tall Corten sculpture will touch down in the Rockaways

Kris Perry with the unassembled pieces of Mother Earth outside of his studio (Daniel McCabe)

With Phase 4 of New York City’s reopening delayed as COVID-19 cases across the country continue to swell, it looks like cultural institutions in New York City won’t reopen anytime soon. For those willing to bike, walk, or brave public transportation, however, sculptor Kris Perry is bringing a large-scale architectural sculpture to Queens’s Rockaway Beach in August.

As part of the New York City Parks Department’s Art in the Parks program, Mother Earth, a towering sculpture that draws inspiration from the spacious qualities of religious architecture and the materiality of local New York infrastructure, will open to the public on August 12. At the time of writing, Mother Earth is still being assembled in Perry’s studio in Hudson, New York, but once complete, beachgoers will be able to wander under its weathered steel spires.

Small sculpture of a spired piece of art
A maquette of Mother Earth. Once complete, the Corten steel structure will share its materiality with weathered ocean ships, rusted piles, and other urban infrastructure. (Daniel McCabe)

Although the piece won’t move like Perry’s other kinetic sculptures, visitors are encouraged to touch and move through the space Mother Earth will create, as well as to use its central void to frame the surrounding landscape. With the Metropolitan Museum of Art closed until at least the end of August, consider it a beach-ier, more public variant of the metal frames that adorned the museum’s rooftop last year.

“At a time when people are eager to escape the confines of their homes to enjoy the outdoors,” said Perry in an announcement, “I cannot imagine a more fitting location for Mother Earth than this popular stretch of Rockaway Beach. Where the land meets the water, there is an opportunity for deep contemplation.”

Mother Earth will remain on view by the Beach 98th Street subway station until August 2021.