Written by 2:05 pm Art Is Essential

Art Is Essential vol. 5

Writers on the art that matters to them.

The Gates

Lisa Lynn Biggar

When I think about the power of art and how it can magically transform a landscape, my mind immediately goes to The Gates, the art installation in Central Park envisioned by the married couple Bulgarian artist Christo Yavacheff and French artist Jeanne-Claude. The installation was mammoth: 7,503 16 foot-tall vinyl gates, the same saffron color as the nylon fabric that was suspended from them, waving like curtains on 23 winding miles of walking paths. It was February 2005, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 still fresh, like the snow that fell during the 16 days of the installation.

I traveled to see The Gates from Maryland with my parents and husband, along with millions of others. It was an experience I will never forget, the sun on the saffron fabric creating a warm glow that suffused the city. Walking under them, one became immersed in that glow, the golden ceiling that lifted the spirits and gave hope in communion with the others there. It was indeed a spiritual experience, a meditative one: I remember the quiet, the awe, the awareness that we were witnessing art in its highest power. We knew that things would be okay.

I have a picture of The Gates on my desk now, the warm shadows reflecting off the newly fallen snow. It is a reminder to me that we will rise above this pandemic. Science will find the cure, but art will give us a healing path to follow. It will lift us up and, once again, bring us together.

Lisa Lynn Biggar is a literary fiction writer, editor and educator who co-owns and operates a cut flower and herb farm on the eastern shore of MD with her husband and three cats.

Christo (1935-2020) and Jeanne-Claude’s (1935-2009) installation piece The Gates was completed in 2005. The 7,503 gates stood 16 feet tall and nearly 6 feet wide. The installation remained for only 16 days before they were removed and recycled.

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