This past weekend I was finally able to take in my favorite public art installation, Canstruction, at the World Financial Center in Lower Manhattan. Every year after Halloween, the WFC is host to a couple dozen “sculptures” made up entirely (or almost entirely) of canned food products. In NYC, the sculptures remain on display until Thanksgiving, when all the food is donated to local pantries, just in time for the holidays.
Unfortunately, this year Sandy wiped out the venue, meaning Canstruction had to be postponed three months. I’m not sure if it’s an omen, but I almost didn’t get to see the display due to Blizzard Nemo. However, I always enjoy witnessing this feat of imaginative design that seems to defy the laws of physics.
So what, exactly, is Canstruction? Allow the non-profit organization to speak for themselves:
Canstruction, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that holds annual design and build competitions to construct fantastic, giant sized, structures made entirely out of canned food. In each city after the structures are built and the winners declared the creations go on view to the general public as giant art exhibits. At the close of the competition all of the CansculpturesTM are dismantled food used in the structures is donated to the local food banks for distribution to community emergency feeding programs.
Obviously this is a creative way to raise awareness about hunger, but it’s also a unique public art forum. It has become tradition for me and my kids to explore the labyrinthine WFC in search of seahorses and pokemon, sky scrapers and Coney Island replicas. This year was somewhat disappointing with regards to the layout: Whether because of the rescheduled exhibit or the fact that half the WFC is under construction, most of the sculptures were gathered together in the middle of the winter garden. This played down the individual artistic creativity of each sculpture.
My favorites included a huge bank safe, which was cracked open to reveal a vault of food; an android, which despite being in the middle of the Winter Garden display still was ominous; and a chess board complete with different colored pieces.
I’m glad I ventured out in the snow to witness the exhibit, which is both good for the soul and the hungry of New York City.