Monday, December 13, 2010

Urban Work of Public Art-Robert Hickman's Convex Disk at Roosevelt Island

Between Manhattan and Queens lies Roosevelt Island. This island seems to contain an essence found little elsewhere: a community spirit where people still know each other and the hustle and bustle is not the norm. In this somewhat sheltered place, a small item of notice lays dormant in the F subway station. This public work of art is labeled the “Convex Disk” and is composed of near half a million hand-cut and reassembled glass pieces. It directionally faces Manhattan within the upper quarters of the F subway station and is described as “capturing, concentrating, and reflecting light like a beacon” (
            Many of the features of this description seem to invoke an image of the complexity that it faces; that is Manhattan and very diverse conglomeration of multicultural, multilingual, and multinational elements. This vastness is best seen in the jigsaw like way it is assembled and the numerous individual pieces used to great it. While it may seem to state elements of the Manhattan that do not seem to be as prevalent on Roosevelt Island, it is its location on Roosevelt Island that one can get an amazing view of the city’s upper east side in close proximity. The manner in which it focuses light is an excellent analogy to describe how complexity does not seem to lessen the closer you get, as one can see by the plethora of pieces within the artwork itself, however the manner in which it all comes together is something unique and delicate in itself. This last fact seems to bring one to image all the racial tensions and cultural diversity of immigration that convex
            Hickman is a contemporary artist who has been commissioned for many different works around the city. He works primarily with sculptural objects, installations, and public sculpture. His art has been exhibited in many venues such as the art museum/gallery PS1 and the Robert Lehman Gallery. He has commissions throughout the city, of which include the one on Roosevelt Island and another at Verdi Square, 72nd street station in Manhattan. Incidentally he graduated from Hunter College, which lies just across the river from the art piece on Roosevelt Island, with a Masters of Fine Art in Sculpturing.

I chose this piece of art because I work on Roosevelt Island and I have always wanted to know more about it. Passing it everyday to work, I have glanced at it and have always been confused about what is was all about, but since doing the project, I have taken a closer look and have realized how complex it is and how much I relate that to the complexity of New York City itself. My interpretation of its meaning is my own and reflects the past six months of working on the island, interacting with the locals as well as the tourists who come for a magnificent view of Manhattan. Its often easy to forget how complex New York City is until you step outside of it and look in. I am not a native of the city, so my perception has not always been of a normalcy when viewing the city, but over time I have adjusted in ways that make this work of art take on even more meaning than when I first came to the city.


1 comment:

  1. What a lovely post about an interesting and unusual piece I didn't know about - thanks for bringing it to my attention.