A trail featuring sculptures at sites along the Overseas Highway recently added a few “Fragments” in Islamorada’s Morada Way Arts & Cultural District.
Those passing through Islamorada may have noticed tall statues of human figures positioned on open property located at MM 80.1, bayside. They were installed a few months ago as an addition to the Florida Keys Sculpture Trail, which spans from MM 81 to the Key West International Airport. Key West philanthropists Jacob Dekker, who passed away Sept. 1, 2019, and John Padget gave the sculptures and launched the public art trail.
Sculptures of various sizes and shapes were created by artists in the prestigious Art Students League of New York’s “Model to Monument” program that trains an international team of sculptors in the public art process. They were installed in Manhattan’s Riverside Park South along the Hudson River back in 2016, but they’ve now found a new home in the Keys. “Fragments” was created by Shiho Sato of Yokohama, Japan, who moved to New York City in search of its arts community.
The Florida Keys Council of the Arts was in charge of placing the sculptures, in collaboration with Monroe County Art in Public Places Committee and Monroe County Board of County Commissioners. Elizabeth Young, Florida Keys Council of the Arts executive director, said the three sculptures were given to the Morada Ways Arts & Cultural District. With their sophisticated and Italian renaissance feel, the three monumental human figures reflect the artist’s hope to create ongoing dialogue among visitors.
“We’re really grateful to Mr. Padget and the late Mr. Dekker for their vision,” Young said. “It’s really turned into something more than any of us ever anticipated.”
Rio Campbell, Morada Way Arts and Cultural District executive director, said she’s thrilled to present “Fragments” to the Florida Keys community and its visitors. Sato’s visually arresting and dynamic trio of sculptures directs the viewer’s eyes toward emerging human forms. By not fully rendering the human form in each sculpture, Sato is commenting on how humanity is forever intertwined and deeply connected to the environment around us.
“‘Fragments’ can be initially startling; however, it asks the viewer to spend time inspecting the nuances of the material, so very reminiscent of local limestone and coral,” Campbell said. “Sato has stated that ‘Fragments’ is meant to grow and become one with the natural ecosystem around it.”
Campbell added that Morada Way Arts and Cultural District has plans to incorporate native Florida landscaping with the installation to highlight the sculpture’s representation of humanity’s deep connection to the natural world.
“MWACD would like to extend its immense gratitude and thanks to the Florida Keys Council of the Arts, without whom this would not be possible,” she said.
Placing the three sculptures required a bit of work beforehand, since the property they’re located on is owned by the Florida Department of Transportation. Beth Kaminstein, District 4 representative for the Art in Public Places Committee, worked with the village and Morada Way Arts and Cultural District to get permission from FDOT. About $10,000 was raised to obtain pedestals for the sculptures, which Native Construction installed, Young said.
With “Fragments” being the latest addition, the sculpture trail will see three more sculptures en route to the Keys. Young said the theme of the new sculptures is wave in nature. The sculpture “Gaea” is a strong female piece by Gaia Grossi about being respectful of Mother Nature. It will be placed at Mote Marine Laboratory’s Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Restoration and Research on Summerland Key. “Moire 3” is a wave-resembling piece by Frank Michielli that will be placed at Big Pine Community Park, while “Wavehenge,” a 12-foot stainless steel wave with benches by Jeff Sundheim, will be installed at Truman Waterfront Park in Key West.
“The Florida Keys Council of the Arts is grateful for the support of the board of county commissioners, Islamorada council and Key West city commissioners who’ve supported this project along the way,” Young said.
Visit keysarts.com for more information on the sculptures and their locations.