What’s more New York than a pigeon drinking out of a Greek coffee cup? How about a smushed lanternfly? Or Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture? All of these iconic images of New York City have been recreated in the form of stacked cans spread throughout Brookfield Place for the annual Canstruction® exhibit. In total, there will be 24 sculptures on display made entirely out of canned and non-perishable food items. We visited on opening day to get a closer look!
Canstruction® is an annual competition that takes place in over 100 cities. Teams of volunteers made of design industry professionals create can art sculptures that are put on display for the public to enjoy. The sculptures are then judged by a panel that picks winners in the categories of Best Original Design, Best Use of Labels, Structural Ingenuity, Best Meal, and 2 honorable mentions.
When the competition is over, all of the food is donated to local food banks. Visitors to the exhibit are also encouraged to leave their own food donations. So far, over 2 million pounds of food have been donated in New York City since 1993, and over 1.2 million pounds to City Harvest since 2006.
This year, the submissions are especially creative. Due to supply chain issues, the sculptures for the 2023 competition are a bit smaller than usual. Contestants also are not allowed to change the food packaging labels in any way, so they have to use the colors and shapes resourcefully to create the intended effect.
Teams gather inspiration for the sculptures from a variety of sources. As you walk along all of the displays, you’ll see figures inspired by movies or video games and comics, recreations of famous works of art like The Great Wave by Katsushika Hokusai, as well as sculptures based on more abstract ideas.
We especially enjoyed the NYC-themed sculptures. Take for example the “Splattered CANternfly” pictured above. Made of tomato sauce, rice, pasta, nori seaweed wraps, and mashed potatoes, this creation by Perkins Eastman symbolizes “NYC’s collective effort against the invasive spotted lanternfly, a grave ecological threat. This sculpture signifies the community’s resolve to protest their environment and lifestyle.” There was also a sculpture honoring the 50th Anniversary of hip-hop, which was born in the Bronx.
Each sculpture is accompanied by a poster that shows its title, who made it, how many New Yorkers it could feed, and links to charitable organizations that align with its specific mission. The sculpture pictured above, made of tuna, chicken, beans, baby food, and water bottles aims to “melt hunger – here in New York and in faraway places like Alaska.”
Check out more of the sculptures in the album below and see them for yourself between now and November 13th! Which one is your favorite?
Next, check out 10 Must-See Art INstallations in NYC This November