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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cement insects arrive at Van Cortlandt Park

By Maya Rajamani
Posted
Marisol Diaz/The Riverdale Press
Laura Barmack stands next to the piece she helped create, called ‘Tree of Life.’ The structure is made of steel, cast cement and fiber glass with a concrete base. It is on display at Van Cortlandt Park until May 2015.
Marisol Diaz/The Riverdale Press
The sculpture in the center, created by Laura Barmack, is a cricket struggling through the process of shedding its exoskeleton, its legs trapped inside its skin. 
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Insects have taken over Van Cortlandt Park, but not to worry: this kind doesn’t bite.

The Department of Parks and Recreation has unveiled 14 insect sculptures at the south end of the park, down the steps from the Van Cortlandt House Museum and behind the park’s pool. 

Seven sculptors from the Arts Students League in New York City made the pieces, with insects ranging in length from one to three feet. Each of the bugs extends from steel branches projecting out of a central scaffold cemented to the ground. It is the fourth of five years for the project, funded by the league and the Parks Department. 

Laura Barmack, a Riverdale-based artist who participated in the project, said the Parks Department asked the artists to focus their works on invertebrate insects. From that prompt, the artists expanded upon a broader theme: metamorphosis. 

“I think change has always been a very important theme in my life and in my work,” said Ms. Barmack, who has lived in the area for 14 years. “Each of these creatures is passing through stages, but they’re also living and dying, as we are.” 

Though she studied fine arts in college, a career in the publishing industry lent little time for her artistic pursuits. Now, she is dedicating more time to artistic and writing endeavors. 

“We were excited that one of Bronx’s own artists is involved this year as she has intimate knowledge and deep appreciation of the park,” said Margot Perron, president of the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy. 

One of Ms. Barmack’s creations consists of two tomato horn worms, curled around a mass of larvae; another is a cricket, struggling through the process of shedding its exoskeleton, its legs trapped inside its skin. 

“For me, it was a very compelling and beautiful situation to express in a piece of sculpture,” Ms. Barmack explained as she stood next to the sculpture at Vannie on Monday morning. 

“It’s a sense of vulnerability that we all experience,” she said. 

Her insects are suspended among others, including a dragonfly and a butterfly. Several of the sculptures depict the insects in their larval states. 

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