If you’ve been near the Jersey City waterfront of late, you may have noticed a giant sculpture being assembled – it’s kind of hard to miss. Hoboken Girl Readers have been asking what the story behind it is, so we did some digging. The 80 feet tall sculpture in question is called Water’s Soul created by internationally famous artist Jaume Plensa. If you’ve missed the action this past week, fret not, the sculpture will be a permanent fixture in Chilltown.
^ Water’s Soul
(Photo credit: Gray)
Water’s Soul will overlook the Hudson River, directly facing lower Manhattan. The sculpture itself depicts a portrait of a person’s face with a finger held up to its mouth, almost as if it’s signaling the phrase “shhh.” Gray, the brand representing the artist, refers to the sculpture as “a young girl.” “The sculptural portrait, though monumental in scale, humbly gestures for quietude, a beckoning towards empathetic self-reflection,” as Gray described it. “With great ethereal beauty, Plensa’s site-specific installation serves as a tribute to the Hudson River, aligning with the artist’s ongoing interest in bodies of water as proxies for humankind.”
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About the Artist
^ Another sculpture by Plensa titled Behind the Walls
Jaume Plensa, a Barcelona native, is the artist behind some of the world’s most recognizable sculptures. He has installations in major cities across the globe including Calgary, Chicago, San Diego, Montréal, Los Angeles, London, Dubai, Bangkok, Shanghai, and Tokyo. Some of his recent pieces include Laura in Century City, Los Angeles, Dreaming in downtown Toronto, and Voices permanently installed at 30 Hudson Yards in New York City.
His goal is to always “evoke inward reflection, silence, and intellectual engagement, often relying upon the relationship between the viewer and the object to complete his works.”
Why the Jersey City Waterfront?
Jersey City has become a mecca for artists both local and abroad to showcase their talents. It has embraced the beauty of art and created a space where artists and their work are valued. Water’s Soul is the latest addition to the city’s portfolio, and a great addition if we may add.
“Water is a marvelous metaphor for humanity,” Plensa said in a statement. “One drop of water is quite alone, like a single person, but many drops together can create a tidal wave and form immense rivers and oceans. When individuals come together to exchange ideas and create community, we can build something incredibly powerful.”
According to Gray, Water’s Soul is a nod to the Hudson River waterfront pier, “a locale that bore witness to much of the trade coming in and out of New York City on ferries and rail barges during the 19th and early-20th centuries.” Plensa’s sculpture aims to acknowledge that history while also expressing the hope for humanity to build a better world.
“As climate change already threatens to take hold of our beautiful planet, we must join together to protect water as one of the most precious elements in nature. It is not owned by anyone but belongs to all of us. Water is the source of life, and Water’s Soul is a celebration of life. It is my wish for Water’s Soul to become an icon for Newport and a landmark that visually connects it with New York City across the Hudson River. Just as Water’s Soul acts to unite the city of Jersey City and New York City, we are reminded that water is the great public space that unites and embraces communities as well as people around the world,” said Plensa.
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Plensa was chosen by the LeFrak and Simon families, developers of Newport’s waterfront community, in hopes to convey a message of hope for humanity’s future. “Over the course of three decades, Newport has blossomed into a vibrant, diverse community. We are proud to welcome Jaume Plensa’s breathtaking sculpture to this one-of-a-kind neighborhood as we continue to establish Newport within the growing art scene taking shape in Jersey City,” Richard LeFrak, Chairman and CEO of the LeFrak Organization stated. “After a generation of incredible work, determination, and investment, this area has been truly transformed from what was once barren land into a vibrant, thriving community,” says David Simon, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and President of Simon. “This magnificent Jaume Plensa sculpture is a phenomenal representation of the cultural sense of place that Newport embodies.”
On Thursday, October 21st from 2PM – 4PM, Water’s Soul will officially debut in a ceremony to be held at the site. Following the dedication, the pier will be open for year-round public access. The pier’s landscaped walkway was designed by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects and connects to Newport’s existing mile-long Hudson River Waterfront Walkway. The LeFrak and Simon families together commissioned Jaume Plensa for the artwork on Newport Pier. LeFrak and Simon are the chief developers of Newport. RSVPs are required to attend the event, inquiries can be sent to LeFrak@stuloeser.com. Drinks and light food will be served.