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How Okuda San Miguel Created his Largest Public Art Project in Boston

  • Okuda San Miguel - Domestic
November 9, 2018
A philosophy graduate interested in theory, politics and art. Alias of Jelena Martinović.

The city of Boston is now richer for a series of captivating public art. Global creative house and curator Justkids partnered with property developer WS Development to launch the project Air, Sea and Land by the renowned Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel. Realized in Seaport, the series features vibrant large-scale sculptures executed in the artist’s distinct geometric and colorful style.

Positioned at deliberate intervals on the Seaport Boulevard medians between Sleeper Street and East Service Road, the Okuda series in Boston tells a story of life and coexistence between the animal kingdom and the human world.

The Installation of Air Sea Land
The Installation of Air Sea Land

The Coexistence of Human and Animal Worlds

Famous for intense psychedelic colors and geometric harmonies, the Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel creates art which seems to open a portal to different worlds. Using colors as a symbol of life and nature, he blends geometric landscapes with organic shapes, headless animals, figures, and personal iconography. The coexistence and symbiosis between humans and animals is one of the recurring subjects in the artist’s oeuvre.

Okuda‘s largest public art project so far, Air Sea Land in Boston is meant to visually anchor the neighborhood and connect it graphically and thematically to other works and points across the city. Through organic shapes, forms and symbols, these seven sculptures perfectly reflect the Seaport’s tangible coexistence of air, sea, and land.

Reflecting the ancient ideas of genesis and the creation of diverse animal species, the artist tells a story about life, coexistence and environment. Exploring the importance of mythology in the shared history of animals and mankind, Okuda shows us how were animals developed, from being shaped by light and water to becoming shaped by human influence. The entire Okuda/Justkids series reminds us of the importance of maintaining the delicate, natural balance of our environment and live in a world of coexistence and harmony.

Widewalls talked to Okuda to learn more about the Boston sculptures

Widewalls: This is your largest public art undertaking so far. How would you describe the challenge of putting it all together?

Okuda: I have done a larger individual piece before but yes, it’s definitely my biggest project in public art project because of the quantity; seven sculptures on the same avenue and because of the exposure in one of the largest city in the USA.

Widewalls: How do the works connect to their location? Why these particular animals?

O: The theme is very universal. It talked about the creation, the stars, the mythology and nature… so it’s a mix of imaginary being and animals of the Boston area.

Widewalls: Were there any immediate reactions from the public on site?

O: The feedbacks were very positive. Many people pass by saying thank you for bringing art in their neighborhood and in the city. It was very rewarding.

Widewalls: What do you think of the work Justkids is doing for public art?

O: I am very focused on my sculptural and public space work and really enjoy it. The work of Justkids for public art goes in the same direction as mine. They change the cities scape for a better one. It’s very well executed and curated and that’s why I love to work with them.

The Installation of Air Sea Land
The Installation of Air Sea Land

Charlotte Dutoit on the Boston Project

Justkids curator Charlotte Dutoit says that Okuda’s project, positioned in such a dynamic and rising neighborhood, expands art in the public space for everyone to embrace Widewalls had a chat with her about the project:

Widewalls: How would you comment on this collaboration with Okuda? What are your impressions? How does this project contribute to the role that public art plays in our lives?

Charlotte Dutoit: Artistically I think that Okuda fit perfectly this part of the city. There is a good contrast between the very slick and high tech architecture of the Seaport buildings versus the bright colorful figures of Okuda. It’s accessible for a wide audience and if you look a bit closer it also carries a sense of mystery that can bring deeper questions about the concept of origin for example or simply a moment for reflection. In that sense, it’s art for the public.

Overall it adds value and appreciation to the place. A lot of neighborhood have a famous and specific public attraction or landmark. I feel that now with Okuda the Seaport does too.

Widewalls: What’s next for Justkids?

CD: We have a few new large commissions with Okuda. We are producing Unexpected, an art festival in Arkansas, and then we are going back straight to Puerto Rico for the Justkids art residency as we invited French contemporary artist Alexandre Bavard, also known as Mosa. He will be producing new works and participating with us in Meca Art Fair in San Juan with a show and a performance.

Let’s take a virtual tour along the Boston Seaport to explore each of Okuda’s seven sculptures.

Featured image: Okuda San Miguel – Domestic. All images courtesy of JustKids.

  • Light

Creation Light

Okuda’s story begins at the beginning of time with the piece titled Creation: Light. Light is presented as a geometric star executed in the artist’s distinct colorful style. The sculpture also reflects the way the Prudential Center, colloquially referred to as Boston’s North Star, shines in an array of colors for a range of announcements to the citizens of Boston.

The piece Creation: Light is located at 50 Seaport Boulevard.

  • Wave

Creation Water

As you continue down the Seaport Boulevard, you run into a second piece installed by Okuda titled Creation: Water, no less impressive than the first one. The artist represented water as a colorful, flattened wave in his distinct style, reflecting the sea’s richness with life. At the same time, this piece encourages the viewer to think about Boston’s relationship to the sea.

The piece is located at 58 Seaport Boulevard.

  • Okuda San Miguel - Mythology One

Mythology Being 1

For the third piece in the street titled Mythology: Being 1, the artist invented a mythological human-fish-bird hybrid to fuse humans to the animal world. Depicting a bird resting atop a human head floating in a puddle of water and adorned with fish scales, the piece suggests the symbiosis of these two worlds and the fragility of our ecosystem.

The piece is located at 72 Seaport Boulevard.

  • Mythology Two

Mythology Being 2

Few meters away from the previous sculpture, there is Mythology: Being 2. For this piece, the artist created yet another fantastical creature which stands for the bond between animals and humans. The method of combining animal heads with human torso’s to emphasize this relationship has been employed from Ancient Egypt to contemporary Boston.

The piece is located at 74 Seaport Boulevard.

  • Co-Existence

Natural Balance Coexistence

The piece titled Natural Balance: Coexistence depicts a human hand holding a dove which represents the natural balance of the shared existence of humans and animals. Even though our ecosystems are diverse, they are harmonious. The artist reminds us to embrace one another in order to protect our universe.

The work is located at 85 Seaport Boulevard.

  • Domestic

Diversity Domestic

Further down the street, there is a piece titled Diversity: Domestic. It shows a squirrel holding a pigeon as a way to represent one facet of the diverse animal kingdom: domestic creatures. These are the animals that live among us and that can be often found stealing a bite or picking after us. In this way, the artist reminds us that animals must be free in order to maintain the equilibrium.

The piece is located at 99 Seaport Boulevard.

  • Wild

Diversity Wild

The last piece of Okuda’s project is the piece titled Diversity: Wild. It shows a deer standing with his head up and representing the other facet of the diverse animal kingdom – wild creatures. This piece also sends the message about animals remaining free.

The piece is located at 121 Seaport Boulevard.