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President & CEO

Irish Hunger Memorial

WATCH: BPCA Presents: Public Art on Video – Irish Hunger Memorial (with Brian Tolle)

LISTEN: Additional background of the Irish Hunger Memorial provided by cultural liaison Adrian Flannelly and artist Brian Tolle (Audio File)

The Irish Hunger Memorial is designed to raise public awareness of the events that led to the famine of 1845-52 and to encourage efforts to address current and future hunger worldwide. One and a half million Irish were lost through famine related death and the Diaspora. The design expresses a desire to react and respond to changing world events without losing its focus on the project’s commemorative intent.

Central to Tolle’s project is an authentic Famine-era cottage donated to the Memorial by his extended family, the Slacks of Attymass, County Mayo, Ireland. The cottage has been painstakingly reconstructed on the Memorial’s halfacre site as an expression of solidarity to those who left from those who stayed behind.

From the cottage, visitors to the Memorial meander along paths winding through a rugged landscape thickly planted with native Irish flora-plants often found growing in fallow fields. Ascending to an overlook twenty-five feet above the ground, the visitor confronts a breath-taking view of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island beyond. This landscape is cantilevered over a stratified base of glass and fossilized Irish limestone, presenting a theater of historical and modern sentiments about famine worldwide. Layers of mutable text, appearing beyond touch as shadows upon the glass, wrap around the exterior of the Memorial and into the passageway leading to the cottage while accounts of world hunger are heard from an audio installation overhead.

Brian Tolle is an internationally renowned sculptor and public artist. His recent public works include Waylay for the Whitney Biennel in Central Park, New York (2002), Man’s Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe for the Queens Museum of Art, New York (2001) and WitchCatcher at MetroTech Center Brooklyn, New York (1997) reinstalled in New York City Hall Park, New York (2003). Using a variety of media, Tolle’s works draw themes from the scale and experience of their surroundings provoking a re-reading by cross-wiring reality and fiction. In much of Brian Tolle’s work he uses cutting-edge technology in unexpected ways, blurring the border between the contemporary and the historical.

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