Paula Hayes’s Luminous Globes of Predigital Castoffs Lure the Instagram Set

The artist's illuminated orbs turn the park into a winter wonderland.

Paula Hayes’ series of 18 luminous Gazing Globes recently went on view in Madison Square Park in midtown Manhattan and viewers have been nothing short of enchanted. The proverbial “light in the dark” has perhaps never been more welcome during this frigid, seemingly endless, winter in the Northeast.

“Illumination will draw human beings to look at something,” Hayes told artnet News on February 19, the day of the unveiling, “and in the dreary gray cold winter of New York, [this] is something that is very beautiful and magical.” Indeed, below-zero temperatures and wind gusts haven’t stopped people from pausing to engage with the installation, curiously circling the globes, and taking the whole thing in before zeroing in on individual ones.

The globes themselves—all set at different heights and each lit from within—are transparent polycarbonate spheres that hold the remnants of contemporary culture such as radio parts industrial materials, and acrylic wands, all sprinkled with “fairy dust” that the artist made from pulverized CDs. As Hayes herself aptly describes it, the globes give the park “an arctic feeling, a winter wonderland.”

Despite their appearance as fragile and ephemeral, they are incredibly durable, she notes. That’s a good thing especially since they will be exposed to the elements every day for the next month and a half (the exhibition runs through April 19).

Not surprisingly, the whimsical installation—the latest in Madison Square Park’s prestigious public art program—has proved to be a hit on social media, with hundreds of pictures popping up on Instagram posts in the first few days alone.

Hayes, who is known for her terrariums and “living” artworks  has worked on the project for the past three years and described how the plan to create terrariums evolved into a vision of the turning them inside out. Now “the park itself is the terrarium,” she says. Watching people engage with them “is another kind of magic. Their creativity is part of it, these little worlds that they’re framing and making.” (See: Instagrammers Step On Oscar Murillo at MoMA and Ways of Seeing Instagram)



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