Colorful tulle sculptures in Madison Square Park brighten the winter cityscape
“To Let the Sky Know/Dejar que el cielo sepa” (2024) in Madison Square Park, for “To Let the Sky Know/Dejar que el cielo sepa.” Photo credit: Rashmi Gill.
New vibrant sculptures made of tulle are adding brightness to the city’s bleak winter landscape. On display in Madison Square Park through March, artist Ana María Hernando’s exhibition, titled “To Let the Sky Know/Dejar que el cielo sepa,” includes a series of large-scale atmospheric clouds and one cascading waterfall, all made of flowing, colorful tulle. The exhibition marks the 20th anniversary of the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s public art program.
Hernando’s sculpture series plays off the barren winter cityscape and serves as a metaphor for the shared human experience. Now, with the city streets covered in ice and snow, the artwork offers a glimpse of vibrant color and cheerfulness to guide New Yorkers through these bone-chilling months.
The sculptures are made of tulle, a “sumptuous small-gauge fabric netting” inspired by forms found in nature and transformed through the sewing process into brilliant colors. The material is frequently used in bridal veils, petticoats, and tutus, objects that conceal aspects of women’s bodies. Through her work, Hernando uses tulle to highlight its “feminine connotations” while making it “undeniably visible.”
Like the rest of her work, “To Let the Sky Know/Dejar que el cielo sepa” is inspired by the creations of women from Latin America and the Latin American diaspora. Hernando spent her formative years working in her family’s textile plant in Buenos Aires and sewed alongside other workers, an experience that has continued to inspire her work.
“I grew up surrounded by textiles, from my grandmothers and mother getting together in the afternoons to sew and crochet, to summers spent as a teenager sewing in the small textile factory my maternal grandparents had begun in the 1920s,” Hernando said.
“Because of the impact of the women in my family, and the recognition by working at the factory that together we can make something better, I am attracted to and admire the circles of women that have gathered through centuries to collaborate and work together, to accompany each other.”
Hernando continued: “In my work, I look for these collaborations, these moments of togetherness, from cloistered nuns and their families in Buenos Aires – who have embroidered for my pieces – to the dignified women of the Andes – whose wares I have included in installations – to volunteers coming to sew with me to make a mountain of tulle.”
“To Let the Sky Know/Dejar que el cielo sepa” marks the 20th anniversary of Madison Square Park Conservancy’s art program. To celebrate two decades of art in the park, the organization is hosting four artist projects this year, a major publication detailing 50 commissioned exhibitions installed in the park since 2004, a symposium with alumni artists, a short documentary, and more.
On February 5, Hernando and a handful of other artists will talk about the field of textile art and the skills and knowledge that have been passed down through the generations. On February 7, Hernando will host an embroidery workshop, taking inspiration from the sounds of the park.