Loss and Regeneration

Loss and Regeneration

In a city predominated by memorials and statues, it is worthwhile to remember that D.C. is also home to a large number of public works of outdoor art.  From the formal pieces in the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art, to the informal murals whose canvas may be the side of a building or the wall of a bridge overpass, the quality and quantity of public outdoor artwork in our nation’s capital is often overlooked by visitors and locals alike.

On this bike ride I stopped to appreciate the two part sculpture entitled “Loss and Regeneration”, which is situated on the plaza along Raoul Wallenberg Place, which is adjacent to the United States Holocaust Museum in downtown D.C. (MAP).  The 1993 bronze sculpture by Joel Shapiro addresses the disintegration of families and the tragedy of lives interrupted by the Holocaust, and memorializes the children who perished.

The work consists of two bronze elements that engage in symbolic dialogue.  The larger piece is a towering, abstract, tree-like form that suggests a figure.  Approximately 100 feet away, a smaller, house-like structure is precariously tipped upside down on its roof.  The artist likens the overturned house to the subversion of the universal symbol of security, comfort, and continuity.  The larger figure is conceived as an emblem of renewal, a metaphor for cycles of life and death, the experience and the overcoming of anguish, the possibility of a future even after all has been lost.

The work is accompanied by an excerpt of a poem written by a child in the Terezin ghetto in Czechoslovakia, which reads,

“Until, after a long, long time,
I’d be well again.
Then I’d like to live
And go back home again.”

Aristotle once said, “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”  If this statement is true, then “Loss and Regeneration” is worth not only taking the time to go see, but it is worth a little extra time to contemplate its meaning and significance as well.

LossAndRegeneration01        LossAndRegeneration03     LossRegeneration01a

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