Reflecting on Kennedy Yanko’s Public Sculpture

Kennedy Yanko, Three Ways, 2019, public installation along the 1200 block of Poydras Street in New Orleans.

COVID-19 has us all wondering how to fit aesthetic experiences into our quaran-routines. Outdoor art offers the perfect solution. One of the most dynamic public art programs in recent years has been “The Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition Presented by the Helis Foundation,” which rotates sculptures in 20 locations around the city of New Orleans. Initiated by Michael Manjarris, co-founder of the Sculpture for New Orleans project, which was part of the post-Katrina beautification process, the project brings local, national, and international artists together to imagine new ways to utilize what the Crescent City refers to as its neutral ground—such as medians and pedestrian walkways.

Among the works currently on view is Three Ways (2019), Kennedy Yanko‘s first public sculpture. Located near the 1200 block of Poydras Street, the monolithic, rectangular sculpture features a mirrored exterior, as two biomorphic forms—one black, one white—seem to grow forth like fungi from its top and sides.

The highly polished exterior of the sculpture reflects both the passing traffic and the lush plant life surrounding the work, echoing the combination of natural and architectonic forms Yanko used in the work. Says Yanko, “The landscape of Poydras Street actually finishes the piece for me.”