Afloat in the Fort Point Channel which separates downtown from South Boston is a 12-foot-long, 10-foot-tall, and 10-foot-wide elegy to climate change, a styrofoam iceberg carved by area artist Gianna Stewart.
Stewart came up with the idea for the sculpture, aptly titled Iceberg, after reading an article about Iceberg A-68, a mass of ice larger than the state of Delaware, which broke free from the Antarctic Peninsula this past summer. It is one of the largest icebergs on record, and yet Stewart wondered whether Boston residents were even aware of it. She reasoned that bringing a likeness of this iceberg to life in Boston just might grab their attention and serve as a visual reminder of the issue of climate change.
In a studio in Pawtucket, R.I., Stewart constructed the iceberg out of styrofoam and sealed it with boast resin, along with blue and white painted highlights. The 12-piece iceberg was first assembled on a public dock before being anchored down in the Fort Point Channel.
“It’s neat to interject something into someone’s daily path,” Stewart said. “People are often too busy to even look up from their phones, but I created this piece to remind people of much larger issues that are happening outside of their little worlds. If presented with the sight of an iceberg on our daily commute, would we have a greater awareness of our impending doom? Would we do more to prevent it?”
Funded by the Fort Point Channel Operations Board, Iceberg debuted on Oct. 8, but due to its limited time on display, Stewart plans on holding a mock funeral for the mini-iceberg replica. The size of the iceberg actually classifies as a “bergy bit,” rather than a full-scale iceberg according to scientists. Stewart even plans on placing an obituary in the local newspaper to advertise the ending of the Iceberg display.
“I’ll dress for a funeral and play music to memorialize the Iceberg’s long life,” Stewart said.
In 2015, the Fort Point Arts Community displayed Hilary Zelson’s installation called“Who Wears Wool?,” a piece that included a floating sheep and lamb that highlighted contemporary issues of consumerism and a shift in clothing production. Last year, the 12th installation of the Floating Public Art Project was Ann Hirsch and Jeremy Angier’s piece called “SOS (Safety Orange Swimmers),” which featured 22 mannequins dressed in orange, floating in inner tubes—a display intended to symbolize the migrant crisis abroad.
Global climate change may be a contentious topic, but Stewart’s piece has been met largely with positive responses from the community.
“With public art, you never know how people will react,” Stewart said. “People always have an opinion about public art because it is part of their world.”
As she read from the Iceberg’s eulogy, Stewart said that “her presence was impressively massive but lighthearted,” and that “she slowly dwindled, out of place, surrounded by no friends or family, only the unwavering bustle of downtown Boston and occasional flash of a tourist’s snapshot.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Gianna Stewart