NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York artist has assembled more than 350,000 acrylic fingernails to create a neon and pale pink grotto – a tribute to surviving the coronavirus pandemic.
“A Fountain for Survivors,” enclosed in an 18-foot tall rhinestone-studded cave, was unveiled on Thursday in Times Square, offering visitors a refuge until Dec. 8.
“Nails are what you do when it’s time to maintain,” said artist Pamela Council, who has used fountains in their other work exploring the Black experience in the United States.
“Nails is that little special thing that you do for yourself. And I think survivors need that.”
The sculpture resonated with many Black visitors who treat nails as an artform, including Michelle Abrokwa, 29, who said the artwork made her think of her sisters and their love of getting their nails done.
“Every day was a new design for them, sort of like a sense of expression for them,” Abrokwa said. “So it’d be like, ‘OK, on my off-day, I am going to paint my nails this color.’ It’s kind like a mood ring of sorts.”
Visitors may drop a coin-shaped “wishing wafer” into the fountain, which will fizz up to release a healing fragrance.
With New York emerging from lockdown, the Times Square Alliance said it estimated some 10 million pedestrians will see the free exhibit. The city was an early epicenter of the pandemic.
Surviving the loss and lockdown was on the top of Council’s mind in creating their work.
“We’ve all made it this far,” they said. “And we all need a spark of joy right now.”
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(Reporting by Dan Fastenberg; Editing by Richard Chang)