Don Kennell, 2016

Monkey See, 2016
Materials: welded steel, structural steel armature, glass, automobile lacquer

Artist Statement

The relationship that humans have with animals is profound. From the material to the spiritual, animals figure prominently in the evolution of the human species. Yet in the modern world, animals can become invisible and humans may easily forget the necessity of our relationship with them. By creating monumental sculptures, I hope to make animals visible and to bring particular species into human consciousness. Celebrating the Year of the Fire Monkey provides an ideal opportunity to reflect on our relationship with the natural world.

The scale and material of “Monkey See” are meant to invoke the boldness, strength and determination of the Fire Monkey. By layering up metals to create the form, the sculpture is built through a concentration of fire. The monkey stands and watches as we go about our lives, with one arm slung over its head. The pose is civic yet quizzical; contemplative yet silly. “Monkey See” becomes a prop in a theatrical tableau where the viewer becomes the viewed. This challenges the viewer to complete the moment. The highly polished, touchable surface promotes interaction. The sculpture becomes a mirror and the viewer enters into a relationship with the monkey. 


Year of the Monkey

The Greenway Conservancy’s vision for public art is to bring contemporary art to Boston through free, temporary exhibitions along The Greenway. Curated by the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, Monkey See is part of a yearly rotational exhibit based upon the animal signs of the Chinese Zodiac.

According to the Chinese zodiac, your birth year tells you more than just your age. It is believed that there is a special relationship between people and the animals in the Chinese zodiac. This belief, which can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE), is based on the idea that one's personality is affected by the animal with which their birth year is associated.

The Year of the Monkey (Shen) started on February 8, 2016, and ends on January 27, 2017. People born in the Year of the Monkey are thought to be playful, persuasive, and intelligent. Their inquisitive, creative nature and quick wittedness makes them good at adapting to different environments and taking on challenges, but this same curiosity and cleverness can sometimes bring on restlessness and mischievous trouble if the monkey is not careful.

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