Yesterday the Public Art Fund unveiled Reverberation, a new exhibition of large-scale bells by San Francisco-based sculptor Davina Semo. Reverberation consists of five, four-foot tall bright orange bronze bells and is housed in structures towering over 14 feet at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 along the New York City waterfront. The five bells are individually titled Dreamer, Listener, Mother, Reflector, and Singer, each with its own voice and presence, as well as a unique configuration of holes drilled through their surface to produce a differentiated pitch.

“Semo’s bells become a distinctive and democratized mode of public address that allows art to communicate in profound ways,” says Public Art Fund Curator Daniel S. Palmer. “They give us an opportunity to raise our voices and unite with each other, at a moment when human connection and empathy have become so precious.”

Davino Semo's Reverberation bells from Pier 1Photo: Nicholas Knight, Courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY

For centuries, bells have played a central role in civic life, their sound signaling time, evoking community action, and symbolizing a sense of connection between people. Sound has taken on a new resonance during these COVID-19 times, from claps for essential workers to speeches advocating for police reform in the midst of racial violence. The diverse sounds of these large-scale bells along New York City’s historic East River waterfront is symbolic of the city’s diverse ideas and voices. According to Semo, this collective action invites visitors to reconnect with each other through ringing the bells, reconsidering how we engage and communicate with one another. “I didn’t predict a pandemic, but my goal was always to wake people up,” Semo said in a recent interview with Galerie Magazine.

Davino Semo's Reverberation bells from the waterPhoto: Nicholas Knight, Courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY

The project has been in development since 2016, as Semo was exploring personal relationships through public art. Semo used the labor-intensive lost wax process to create the five bells, first sculpting a wax model of the bell, then using this model to create five full-scale wax bells. She then drilled different compositions of holes in each wax bell, and the five waxes were then cast in bronze and coated with a custom pearlescent bright orange paint that glistens with pink highlights. Reverberation invites audiences to reflect on different futures by asking them to join in the polyphony of sounds that activate New York City.

Reverbation Bells at Brooklyn Bridge ParkPhoto: Nicholas Knight, Courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY

“Year in and year out, Public Art Fund brings something unique and engaging to Brooklyn Bridge Park,” says Brooklyn Bridge Park President Eric Landau. “This year is no different with Davina Semo’s Reverberation, and we’re thrilled to host this spectacular work at Pier 1. With so many cultural institutions closed during this difficult time, we are all grateful that PAF is able to share art in outdoor public spaces.”

Born in 1981, Semo holds a BA in Visual Arts from Brown University and an MFA from University of California, San Diego. Her work has recently been featured in numerous group exhibitions including at the San Francisco Arts Commission, Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, and Parts & Labor in Beacon.

The Public Art Fund uses contributions from individuals, corporations, and private foundations to support works of art throughout the five boroughs, including the artwork at LaGuardia Airport’s new Terminal B. Reverberation will be on view at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1 from August 20 through April 18, 2021.

Next, check out 22 public art installations not to miss in New York City this month!