Philadelphia is known for its public art, and now another incredible piece has graced the city. mainstay is a new sculpture installed in Center City by local artist Miguel Antonio Horn. Created for the city’s acclaimed Percent for Art program, it shows a confused mass of people clinging to a small bridge connecting two buildings. The eight figures are incredibly dynamic and the image quickly went viral.
Horn, who is of Colombian and Venezuelan descent, is stunned by the response. Although Horn and the project’s investors planned to reveal the image to the press in late September, a local blog post in August caused images to circulate far and wide. It was a welcome surprise for Horn, who has created many public works of art in Philadelphia.
Each figure is made from aluminum sheets cut into topographical shapes. By grouping the figures, Horn gives harmony and balance to the sculpture without taking away the dynamic tension. As a viewer, it is unclear whether these figures will prevail and prop up the bridge or whether they will be dragged down by the weight. That eternal question makes it impossible to look away.
When deciding how to approach space, Horn wanted to address some of the important issues facing the world today, while also leaving the piece open to interpretation. “I felt the need to take on this battle[s]: the violence, the struggle, the experience that women, people of color and immigrants experience when looking for their place in our society”, says Horn. “The alley was the perfect place for that; a message of resistance.”
The artist adds: “mainstay has deeper questions that arise about our society and the things we are dealing with today. It speaks to the power of communities, to finding balance, to supporting each other, to feminism, to the discomfort of saying a word.”
The sculpture was created as part of the Percent for Art program, an initiative that has been in Philadelphia for more than 60 years that requires new construction or major renovations to allocate 1% of their budget to site-specific public art. To learn more about Horn’s creative process, check out a special Instagram he’s set up to share sketches and mock-ups. If you are in Philadelphia and the . want to see? mainstay for yourself, you can find it in Center City on Cuthbert Street between 12th and 13th Streets.