Over the course of eight years, Peekskill gallery owner and artist collected pieces of deteriorated former manufacturing plants from the banks of the Hudson River in Peekskill. While he collected he researched the history and learned how manufacturing allowed the area to prosper but affected the river's health.
Years later and Morel’s collection of centuries-old metal has found the perfect home. He was chosen by ArtsWestchester to turn his collection into a sculpture to be used in its Fish Tales Around Westchester exhibit, which explores the ecological history of the Hudson River and calls the public to take action on its health.
Morel created a two ton steel tree sculpture that utilizes the metal pieces he collected and represents the “human physical interaction with the river,” he said.
"My purpose is in letting the public know that by taking on anything given to us by nature…it is extremely important to respect it, and that rather than compromising the livelihood, it is best for us to improve and make it better, rather than what happened to the Hudson river,” Morel said.
Morel has incorporated potbelly stoves, tools used for ice harvesting in the 1700s, remnants of former manufacturing plants on the river and symbols that represent the industries that once thrived in the area, into his sculpture.
"While these products were beneficial to man, their creation was often harmful to rivers," Morel said.
The tree sculpture took about five months to create and is made of steel, cast iron, bronze, copper and aluminum.
Morel also incorporated a piece that represents a human limb holding a rivet from the World Trade Center. The 911 memento symbolizes "mankind embracing structure, it’s the appreciation and respect we need to pay to our planet. After all, we can only create from what it gives," Morel writes in his artist statement.
Morel’s impressive tree is installed amongst 20 other artists’ work that creates a fantasy sea environment where guests will be encouraged to participate in art-making and role-playing workshops. ArtsWestchester hopes Fish Tales Around Westchester will engage and educated children and families about the environmental science of the area’s waterways. The opening is June 7 at 6 p.m. and the exhibit is open until Aug. 11.
All of the involved artists made their work entirely from from recycled and repurposed materials harvested from the Lower New York’s waterways. The works create an artistic narrative that will help guests to explore the Hudson River’s abundant past and better understand mankind’s impact on our ecosystem. The exhibition is created in collaboration with nonprofit R.A.R.E. (Rare Animals Really Endangered).
Many of the participating Westchester-based teaching artists will contribute to ArtsWestchester Exhibition Workshops series on Saturdays throughout June and July, which includes a series of seven family workshops, discussion forums, and lecture series. Visit _ArtsWestchester_ for more.
Fish Tales Around Westchester Artists:
Wilfredo Morel and Steel Imaginations
Todd and Laura Rawson