People have started calling it SNOWBANKSY 2021. Adorable polar bear snow sculptures have popped up in Central Park, but it’s not just for the cuteness of it all. The polar bear cubs are sitting on chairs, playing guitar, reading books and doing lots of human things. But they’ll melt soon, and a funeral is happening on Wednesday at 5 PM for them. That’s because SNOWBANKSY 2021 is a climate change art installation by artist Heide Hatry.
One of the signage near the bears says “Mommy, what’s a carbon footprint?” Another sign made of snow that she made earlier this month said “LET US CHILL.” Hatry has been making these sculptures for a few weeks now, stopping by regularly on her walks to create new bears or to fix up ones that have melted. She says the more time-consuming part of the project is not the creation of the bears, of which there are more than two dozen, it’s the daily maintenance as they melt rapidly. She does the “repairs” over night so that the bears are ready for the public in the morning. The items used by the polar bears are usually found in the nearby trash. Hatry hopes that the installation will be part of the larger conversation to encourage people to stop using fossil fuels and to use sustainable, renewable energy, like solar.
Robyn Roth-Moise, who grew up just near the 86th Street entrance on the Upper West Side where one collection of the bears is located, tells Untapped New York, “These polar bears have brought joy to kids and adults alike. The message behind them is a great teaching tool. As we approach warmer temperatures this week the bears will melt. It is also a reminder to all about climate change and how real polar bears are endangered by the constant warmer temperatures.”
Heidi Hatry in front of her polar bear sculptures
Hatry says that doing the project made her realize “there’s a beautiful community here on the Upper West Side.” She has posted on her Instagram that neighbors have brought her tea while she’s working, water to assist in the sculpting, and other gifts. Nobody initially knew who was making the bear sculptures, and so someone in the community installed the SNOWBANKSY 2021 sign.
The funeral on Wednesday will not be a somber affair however. Hatry describes it more as a celebration and a “getting together.” There will be musicians. It will be, as Hatry says, an event about “thinking about what we can do about the climate and celebrating and watching them melt.”
For more photos keep reading below. You can find the SNOWBANKSY polar bear sculptures both near the entrance at 86th Street and Central Park West and on the east walkway of the Reservoir. Follow artist Heidi Hatry on Instagram.
Here’s an interview of Hilde with Mickey Blank of New York Live with Mickey:
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