If you've visited the High Line recently, you may have noticed an unusual sight: a lone apple tree growing out of a smart car wrapped in tire treads. Entitled Smart Tree and presented by High Line Art and Friends of the High Line, the eye-catching installation by Harlem-based artist Nari Ward is a nod to the elevated park's history as a major transportation vein, and recalls a simple but sweet memory from the artist's childhood in Jamaica.
Ward, who is known for incorporating found objects into his works, drew inspiration from both past and present when conceptualizing Smart Tree. The idea to use a vehicle as the base for the piece came from an indoor parking lot adjacent to the High Line, while the apple tree is a link back to Ward’s childhood experience of stumbling upon a lime tree growing out of two abandoned cars at his father’s home.
The cinderblocks that the smart car rests upon symbolize stasis, contrasting directly with the cladding of tire treads, which represents continuous movement.
The car’s interior is filled with the soil that nurtures the apple tree. Upon closer inspection, the soil itself also shows signs of new life flourishing within it.
“Nari Ward is a poet of urban transformation: he chronicles the lives of cities and their inhabitants through the objects they leave behind. That’s why we are particularly happy to exhibit his work on the High Line, which itself has witnessed the many metamorphoses of this city,” says Cecilia Alemani, the Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director & Chief Curator of High Line Art. “His new sculpture is a strange monument in reverse: it speaks about urban culture magically returning to nature. It is hard to say if Smart Tree is a relic from a distant past or an image of a near future; either way, as with all of Ward’s sculptures, it captures what it means to live and grow roots in a contemporary metropolis.”
Smart Tree is located on the High Line at West 23rd Street, and will be on view until March 2017.
Photos: Yuka Yoneda for Inhabitat NYC