Rachel Feinstein’s Folly Fairytale Comes to Life in Madison Square Park
By: Colleen McCartney and Tifani Ng
As the residents of Chelsea don vibrant hues and playful patterns for their summer strolls through Madison Square Park, they are set against a whimsically whitewashed fairytale landscape to complete the picture. Rachel Feinstein’s Folly installation blends environmental efforts with artistic ambition in beautiful simplicity. The installation is part of the Art in the Park Series, and her creations will be present for park-goers in the Flatiron District to enjoy through September 7th. The installation is the latest entry in the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s Mad. Sq. Art series.
Rachel Feinstein describes her vision for the pieces as an “opportunity to marry my early interest in theater and performance with my later obsession with the handmade in one of the most spectacular settings.” She draws on the influences of Federico Fellini, Commedia dell’arte, and Broadway’s rich theatrical tradition inspired by the Zeigfeld Follies to invigorate the park with a sense of wonder. We got the chance to speak to a regular at the park, a man named Blanco, about the installations as he thoughtfully watched two artists work on the construction of a piece called Rococo Hut. He was struck by the environmental effort they represent, and told us that he enjoyed the addition they made to the already beautiful scenery.
While we admired Rococo Hut with Blanco, Kim and David poked in and out of view through the cutouts of the sculpture. They are the duo responsible for bringing Feinstein’s paper models to life in powder-coated, recycled metal. When we called over to them, they kindly paused their work and describe their experience. They’ve been working seven days a week for about 2 ½ months to realize Feinstein’s vision, and their contribution to the nearly finished product added a new dimension to the piece. Folly seems to be inspiring everyone- from Kim and David to instagramming park-goers!
The structures not only serve a decorative purpose, adding an element of uniqueness to the park, but also call attention to the importance of sustainability. Once Feinstein’s paper models were recreated on a computer program, they were ready to be welded. She chose recycled aluminum as her ultimate medium to give new purpose to the scraps and kept the powder-coat white to mimic her paper models as well as reduce waste. According to Powder Coating Institute, the process is very eco-friendly. The powder overspray and air within the coating booth is reusable, and the process does not emit any air pollutants. Additionally, the powder-coated aluminum is durable and protects the structures from all weather elements.
All three pieces are nestled in shady nooks of the park and blend seamlessly into their surroundings. We strongly recommend spending some time in wonderland at Madison Square Park the next time you’re out and about!