by Carolyn Males

If you haven’t driven through the gates of the Coastal Discovery Museum recently, you’re in for a surprise. There amid the live oaks and gardens on Honey Horn’s magnificent grounds stand nineteen bold large-scale sculptures. Among them: a massive doorway stretching toward the heavens; a bronze-and-steel textured torso atilt on a pedestal; a bronze organically-shaped Botanical Fainting Couch; a family tree created from reclaimed steel beams; and a nine-foot tall pair of entwined egrets.

Over at the Hilton Head Airport, a neon installation greets visitors with “You are on an island” a message that conveys yet another thought when the “on” periodically blinks off.

These grand sculptures are all part of The 2018 Public Art Exhibition, Hilton Head’s fourth, sponsored by The Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. After the show closes on January 31, 2019, one piece will be purchased and installed in a public space.

Three Close-ups from the Exhibition

Alight by Yuri Tsuzuki

 “When you see a butterfly, it’s always a surprise, a moment of happiness,” says Yuri Tsuzuki. And in the case of Tsuzuki’s Alight—she gets us on both counts. At first this nine-foot powder coated steel piece appears, most appropriately, as a giant question mark. But as it comes into focus, it metamorphoses into clusters of butterflies—some polished, some raw, some rusted, some shiny. Butterflies symbolize rebirth for Tsuzuki who grew up and lives in Greenville, which in recent years has undergone a rebirth as a vibrant arts and business community. Wander around its downtown and you’ll see hundreds of her butterflies alighting on buildings, parking garages, poles, and in the new Cancer Survivor’s Park where they’ve coalesced into a tall archway. (Located over by the Butterfly House).

Earth Embracing Sky by Ed Miller

Sculptor Ed Miller’s heroic eight foot-tall figure arises out of the trees like a mythic forest god. From the waist down, his stout torso is mounded with greenery, grounding him to the land. Meanwhile his upstretched hands hoist a 44-inch steel ring whose carved-out center opens up to the great blue beyond while its mirrored rim reflects branches, grass, and foliage. In effect, this woodland deity supports Earth and Sky, embracing Miller’s theme of good stewardship of the planet and our link to the universe. (near the Armstrong Hack House)

Hilton Head to the Moon by William Bennett

William H. Bennett took inspiration for this complex piece from Adam Gopnik’s book Paris to the Moon, where the author tells of discovering a 19th century French engraving depicting a train steaming up a vertical track from a Paris station to the moon.

From yards away Bennett’s 20-foot tall work looks like a low round table with a tall pole protruding from it. But step up onto the boardwalk, grab the handle (a granite beach stone polished by waves), and begin walking in a circle. That activates a chime in the base. Sixty-six juniper sticks strike steel rods, emitting a sound familiar to local ears––that of clanking of boats moored to docks as tides lift and fall. That in turn, sends constellations of twinkly stars (Pisces, Virgo, Pegasus, and Aquarius) rotating. While all this is happening, that long vertical arm (with its railroad track crosspieces) sweeps the sky reaching for a very South Carolina crescent moon lit by a single star. (In the field in front of the Pavilion)

The Public Art Exhibition runs through Jan 31 2019. Explore on your own or learn more on docent-led tours. Brand new this year: Otocast, an app featuring artists’ commentary, that you can download and play as you walk through the exhibition.

For more on the Public Arts Exhibition go to

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.