Giant sculptures of endangered animals have been installed in Greenwich Village

A new outdoors installation has just taken up residence by Greenwich Village's Ruth Wittenberg Triangle, at the intersection of Greenwich Avenue, the Avenue of the Americas and Christopher Street—and it would be very hard for you to miss it. 

"Faces of the Wild" features nine, six-foot-tall sculptures depicting critically endangered animals. The monuments are based on the many photographs and sketches that the artists behind the works have taken of wildlife over the past 15 years. 

The depicted animals include the northern white rhino, the chimpanzee, the addax, the western lowland gorilla, the polar bear, the red wolf, the African forest elephant, the hippopotamus and the lion. "These animals come from all over the world, from the African savannahs to the rainforests of Indonesia," reads an official press release about the installation. "They are all beautiful, instantly recognizable, yet in desperate need of help."

The exhibit is the latest installment of the "Love the Last" series by international artists, conservationists and husband-and-wife duo Gillie and Marc Schattner. The larger project aims to bring urban residents face-to-face with threatened animals in order to create a connection between the two parties. A mere look at the giant sculptures in the middle of downtown Manhattan makes the objective of the show very clear.

"Because the public doesn’t see these animals in their day to day life, they may not realize how much they are at risk," reads the official statement. "This exhibition is changing this. The animals have been brought to the urban jungle, into the lives of the public in a brand new way. And once they can see them in this light, a part of their own home, then a bond can be formed."

To deepen the effects of the exhibition, the organizers have added an interactive component to it. Each sculpture features an individual QR code next to it that visitors can scan to land on a page featuring information about each animal, general conservation efforts and the option to donate to the World Wildlife Fund, the artists' charity partner. 

This isn't the first time that the Schattners' work has been on display for New Yorkers to see. Back in 2018, the now iconic statue of three rhinos took over Astor Place, and, in 2020, massive gorilla King Nyani was installed in Hudson Yards (up to three people were able to sit inside its hand at once!). Clearly the couple is dedicated to the cause.

"Faces of the Wild" will be on display for four months.

Anna Rahmanan

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