A ringing bell organizes our civic life, inviting us to come together in public space. Its unmistakable sound marks the hours, calls us to assemble, alerts us to danger, and announces momentous occasions. These and other modes of public address can unify communities and define the auditory landscape of our city, even when all else is silent and still.
Davina Semo (b. 1981, Washington, DC) has created five cast bronze bells to be rung by visitors in the park, recalling the maritime communication once common at this waterfront site. While their percussive function is familiar, the artist has reimagined the traditional bell form as an elongated streamlined sculpture that dangles aloft from a heavy industrial galvanized steel frame. The holes she has drilled through each bell create constellations of light in their darkened interiors and staccato patterns on their exterior shells. These arrangements give them unique identities that are characterized through their evocative titles: Reflector, Singer, Dreamer, Listener, and Mother. Their distinctive voices are also expressed in the subtle nuances in their tones when rung.
Semo’s bells are coated with a lustrous pearlescent paint that glows hot orange to evoke the international color of urgent alarm–meant to heighten our attention in precarious times. During this turbulent year, auditory interventions have characterized our collective experience, whether through the evening cheers for essential workers or the chanting voices of protesters demanding justice. The exhibition builds upon this moment, encouraging audiences to add their own contribution to our urban soundscape. Ultimately, Semo intends for these bells to sound an optimistic note. As we ring out the old and ring in the new, each bell reverberates in concert with its neighbors, creating a collective resonance together.
This exhibition is curated by Public Art Fund Curator Daniel S. Palmer.
While the chain is sanitized regularly, it is highly recommended to sanitize your hands before and after interacting with the artwork. We encourage you to be mindful of social distancing protocols when visiting the artwork.
About the Artist
Davina Semo (b. 1981, Washington, D.C.) has a BA in Visual Arts from Brown University and an MFA from University of California, San Diego. Semo has shown extensively throughout the United States and Europe. Her work has recently been featured in numerous group exhibitions including at the San Francisco Arts Commission, Contemporary Jewish Museum (San Francisco), and Parts & Labor (Beacon) where it was exhibited alongside paintings by Deborah Remington. She presented solo exhibitions at three galleries in 2019: Marlborough Contemporary (New York), Jessica Silverman (San Francisco), and Ribordy Thetaz (Geneva), and in 2020, opened her first solo institutional exhibition at the di Rosa Museum (Napa). Semo is represented by Jessica Silverman (San Francisco), and Ribordy Thetaz (Geneva). Semo lives and works in San Francisco.