About the Exhibition
Artists Keith Edmier, Roxy Paine, Kiki Smith, Kim Sooja, and Brian Tolle were commissioned to make dynamic new works suited for specific sites within Central Park for the Public Art Fund and the Whitney Museum of American Art’s co-curated exhibition in Central Park as part of the Whitney Museum’s 2002 Biennial Exhibition. Together, these five installations represent a broad overview of contemporary approaches to public art that are both thought-provoking and accessible to the largest possible audience.
Sirens and Harpies, by Kiki Smith (b.1954, Nuremberg, Germany), is composed of twenty bronze sculptures, each one bearing the head of a woman and the body of a bird. The harpies—ranging in size from 2 1/2 to 4 feet tall—peer down at passersby from each of three pillars at the Central Park Zoo's entrance. The pillars are flanked by large granite boulders, upon which two flocks of smaller sirens perch, guarding the entrance at ground level. These disarming creatures, based upon the temptresses and monsters of Greek mythology, are both stoic gatekeepers and fantastical reminders of the possibility of a menagerie more magical than the familiar animals inside the zoo.