Looking up, breathing out: ‘Ambrosia’ brings nature and harmony to the Pru
Cambridge-based artist Cicely Carew has brought light, color and a sense of natural harmony to the Prudential Center with her public art installation, “Ambrosia,” commissioned by Boston Properties and curated by the public art organization Now + There.
“Ambrosia” is anchored by two large installations, one at the Boylston Street entrance of the center and one in the Center Court. Between them, a path of smaller, abstract hanging sculptures connect the larger works. The organic, suspended sculptures made with everyday objects pull inspiration from the natural world — in particular, the healing properties of flowers and plants. The soft abstractions, frequently molded with tulle and painted mesh, provide a powerful contrast with the geometric, industrial design of the Prudential Center.
“I wanted to build a space of wondrous exuberance while still having moments of stillness, personal inquiry and reflection,” Carew says. In a bustling center of business and commerce, where natural and internal equilibrium are low on the to-do list, “Ambrosia” provides an important opportunity to slow down. The installation also offers a soft visual landing for those reentering public space for the first time since the COVID-19 shutdowns.
In Greek mythology, ambrosia is considered the food of the gods, a sweet nectar often bestowing immortality on the drinker. Here the word is interpreted as an artistic delight to the senses, an opportunity to indulge in beauty and personal reflection. Installed on March 15, “Ambrosia” pulls Boston out of the colder months and into the blooming spring, a time of brightness and hopefulness after a long winter.
In the Center Court installation, colorful Plexiglas shapes reflect the light that streams in through the Prudential Center’s windowed ceiling. The colors reflect onto other areas of the structure, painting the whole space in a new perspective. At times the installation feels cosmic and astral as well as floral. Lifted high above the viewers, it reminds the public to look up and out of themselves.
This is the third installation curated by Now + There to bring local artists into the Prudential Center. The nonprofit organization installs temporary and site-specific artworks all over Boston with the intention of activating the spaces for community dialogue and making artwork accessible to everyone.
“At a time of societal upheaval, many of us are soul-searching,” said Kate Gilbert, executive director of Now + There. “From the pandemic to racial reconciliation to political change, we are looking at public spaces and reinterpreting how we belong in them. Social distancing. Isolation. Togetherness. Disagreement. Acceptance. Cicely’s work will give us the time and space to contemplate our place in all of it.”