Shahzia Sikander applies patina to “NOW,” the first female figure displayed atop the Appellate Division Courthouse rooftop.
Also included in “Havah…to breathe, air, life” is a second, similar sculpture installed on the rooftop of the adjacent Appellate Division Courthouse, first department of the Supreme Court of the state of New York. Like its counterpart in the park, this figure is also glowing and golden. But instead of floating in a skirt, it emerges from a pink lotus flower.
The sculpture, called “NOW,” is the first female figure to join the nine marble statues of historic and religious male legislators, like Confucius, Moses and Zoroaster, occupying the other plinths on the rooftop. The name, Sikander says, not only calls attention to the present moment, but also nods to the National Organization for Women.
“Aspects that are critical for me are basically how society perceives the idea of femininity in conversation with power, and how these social forces shape women’s lives,” said Sikander.
“NOW” is particularly special to Justice Dianne T. Renwick, who not only works in the marble-faced Beaux-Arts courthouse, but also led the effort to commission the statue.
“We’re just so excited that finally women will be on equal footing, if you will, with men,” Renwick said, “because they’ve made so many important contributions to our legal community.”
As an installation crew stacked the head and bodice of “Witness” to the base of the sculpture, Sikander surveyed the silhouettes of buildings surrounding the park. Pointing toward several gilded rooftops, she looked back at her art work.
“Every step, every piece,” she said, “feels like it’s in conversation with the city.”
Havah…to breathe, air, life will be on view through June 4 at Madison Square Park, before traveling to Houston.