A Look at Sculpture in the Garden in North Carolina

Every Fall the North Carolina Botanical Garden has a Sculpture in the Garden exhibit and displays the work of local artists. Last Fall was the 34th annual exhibit.

I am already highly motivated to stumble through a garden, so hunting for unique sculptures tucked in among the flora was an extra thrill. Of course, an organized map with each piece numbered and labeled was available, but I prefer to wander haphazardly.

Rather than keeping these sculptures hidden on my phone, I’m freeing them for public viewing as they were intended. The originals are no longer on display.

Since my phone photography skills involve blending the art into the background, I played with filters on some of the photos so you could see them better. These were some of my favorites sorted in no particular order by my affectionate names for them

1. The Round Bluebird

Who can resist a cherubic bluebird? Standing out among the brown dirt, this one lay modestly on the ground. With a garden on his stomach and the stars on his back, this bird is his own world.

Sculpture of  a bluebird

MidSummer Bluebird

by Helen Seebold

2. Singing Cardinals

At first, I wasn’t sure what these red shapes were from a distance. As I got closer, I recognized them as one of my favorite birds perched on a wooden fence.

This was the only interactive sculpture that brought the art to life with a QR code.

Below is Cardinal Points, by Debbie Cohen, Jude Casseday, and Bruce Edwards

Sculptures of 4 bright red cardinals sitting on a wooden fence

Cardinals are beloved birds in North Carolina and stay around all year and brighten up the gray winters. For backyard birders, watching the brightly colored males feed the females during the courtship period and beyond is a highlight.

North Carolina is one of seven states that made the cardinal its state bird.

3. The Mosaic Woman

I have a fondness for mosaics. Taking in the whole sculpture, then examining all the little pieces that make it whole. I’m the person who stands inches from the art looking at the details until a stranger taps me on the shoulder bestowing his wisdom that art is best viewed from a distance.

Though the materials weren’t listed on the sign, the small bits looked like a combination of pottery and glass. I admire the skill and patience of an artist who can construct such a large sculpture from so many small pieces.

This goddess magnificently lit up the gardens with each shard gleaming in the sun.

Below is Blue Lotus Goddess, by Theresa Arico

Blue Lotus Goddess from front.

Blue Lotus Goddess picture from the side

Blue Lotus Goddess, by Theresa Arico

Sign by artist that describes the scuplture

I enjoy a mosaic so much that I put two on my list, both from the same artist.

4. The Big Eye in the Garden

Auspicious, by Theresa Arico

“The all-seeing eye” – that was my first thought when I saw this eye watching me from across the garden. It is a benevolent eye, based on the inscription.

I don’t see big-eye art often, except for the tiny Eye of Providence on the back of the American one-dollar bill, back when stores accepted cash. Having a kind, wise eye watching over me in the garden felt calming.

Close up picture of front of sculpture, circular shape with eye in the center.

Auspicious, by Theresa Arico

5. The Graceful Horse

When I was growing up, we lived near small farms with horses grazing on lush, green fields and they always looked so beautiful and graceful. Even though this horse was made of wire, the artist somehow captured the spirit of horses and brought back those memories.

Below is Grazing Horse, by Keith Savage

The Grazing Horse sculpture, a horse made of metal and copper wire.
Picture of horse sculpture with sign that describes the art in the artist's words.

Grazing Horse, by Keith Savage

6. The Metal Flower Garden

These colorful metal flowers and insects seemed transported from another universe into this green-brown garden. Not just regular scrap metal, many of the pieces were made from car parts. The bee was mesmerizing as were the hummingbirds feeding from the flowers.

This felt like a glimpse into a futuristic, alternative, steam-punk-flavored world where nature was a living metal.

All the pictures below are the sculpture, Grandpa’s Garden, by Hamidou Sissoko

Close up of red and white petaled flower with humming bird feeding on flower.

red metal flower with humming bird, butterfly and dragonfly art each on a separate pole.

Sign that describes the art Grandpa's Garden in the artist's words and sign that reads "Best in Show," Juried Award.

That rounds out my top six sculptures in the garden from this exhibit.

Do you have any favorites from this bunch?

Many of the sculptures were available to buy and while this was an exhibit, it was also a competition. You can click to see photographs of all the sculptures in the garden in Fall 2022 and the award-winning art.

And if you want to see more amateur garden pictures, skim through my post Roses, a Big Dog and Camera Filters – In Search of an Alternate Reality.

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