The Awakening in Central Park

Central Park in Chesterfield is a fantastic place to visit for a multitude of reasons. If you've only walked the trail or have taken your children to the playground, you’re missing out on their awe-inspiring public art installation. In the open park space to the east of the playground, across Veterans Place Drive, you will find oversized extremities and a head of a human body fighting it’s way out of the ground. John Seward Jr., who created the work, says “I think this sculpture has a place in the universal subconscious. He woke up, he’s coming to, and God only knows what this means…It’s his awakening. It’s also yours. There might be something bigger than you happening that you’ve got to wake up to.” The complexity of this affirmation is observed while watching indifferent children happily play on and about the giant anguished figure.  

Some would argue that John Seward Jr is not a real artist but a “kitch” manufacturer. While the definition of an artist may be just as subjective as art itself, Seward Jr has all the legendary hallmarks down. His rebellion got him kicked out of college prep school for people with dyslexia. He was fired by his uncle from the family business, Johnson & Johnson. His romanticism got him into trouble with his first marriage. His impatience got him denied entrance to fine art school. However, he was a gifted painter and he had a mechanical mind, so his second wife encouraged him to try sculpture. Since then, Seward has created over 500 public sculptures. His work can be described as hyper-realistic and many are life-sized, some gigantic like The Awakening in Chesterfield. 

Seward has been generous very generous with the art work, using his funds to support other artists. Therefore, his legacy is not just his own work but his generous spirit. The Atelier Technical Institute of Sculpture was created to be an “open source” educational operation, non-profit, for casting and fabrication. 

Our sculpture in Central Park is a second edition. The first was originally placed in Hains Point Washington D.C., 1980. It was then moved to National Harbor in Maryland in 2008. Chesterfield had theirs installed in 2009. The hand rises to 17 feet and the scattered parts spread over 70 feet in width.

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