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An Ode to the Lenape People

Rendering courtesy of the New York Thruway Authority

The first of ten original works of art is scheduled to be installed on the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge path this month. A massive sculpture, TAPPAN ZEE, is the work of artist Ilan Averbuch. It is one of the site-responsive works chosen in a competitive selection process managed by ArtsWestchester in collaboration with the New York State Thruway Authority and the Arts Council of Rockland.

TAPPAN ZEE, representing the native Lenape people of the Hudson River Valley, depicts a procession of seven abstract figures as they carry a traditional canoe on their shoulders. The sculpture sends a nod to historic naval travelers of the River, like Henry Hudson and the Dutch settlers of New Netherland. The name “Tappan Zee” itself is a combination of the Lenape term meaning “cold water” and the Dutch term for “sea,” which is symbolic of the shared regional heritage represented by the sculpture.

"The piece conveys the concept of a group effort to cross the river, like the movement across the bridge, as well as the collaborative effort of making the bridge." -Ilan Averbuch

Progress photo courtesy of the New York Thruway Authority

The concept behind the piece evokes the enterprising collaborations of society, and is symbolic of community and the movement of people in boats. Says the artist: “The piece conveys the concept of a group effort to cross the river, like the movement across the bridge, as well as the collaborative effort of making the bridge.”


TAPPAN ZEE
, representing the native Lenape people of the Hudson River Valley, depicts a procession of seven abstract figures as they carry a traditional canoe on their shoulders. The sculpture sends a nod to historic naval travelers of the River, like Henry Hudson and the Dutch settlers of New Netherland. The name “Tappan Zee” itself is a combination of the Lenape term meaning “cold water” and the Dutch term for “sea,” which is symbolic of the shared regional heritage represented by the sculpture.

The sculpture, standing 12-feet-tall and 20-feet-long, will be installed on the Rockland side of the bridge at the South Nyack trailhead of the side path. Passersby will share in a metaphorical journey with figures that may have inspired such an intrepid journey – one that has defined the area for centuries.

The ten works of art are by eight New York State artists and will be located on or near the bridge’s 3.6-mile bicycle/pedestrian path. This landmark Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge Public Art Program is a collaborative initiative between artists, engineers, architects, fabricators, and state and cultural leaders.

A version of this article first appeared in the April issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.

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