NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new art installation in Madison Square Park soars sky high to highlight what’s disappearing on the Earth’s surface.
Forty-nine Atlantic white cedars emerge from the ground and reach toward the skyline. Gaze up, look around, and you’ll see somethings missing along the canopy.
“You don’t really notice that the trees themselves, towards the top, actually carry no leaves when you’re on the ground. It’s almost as if you don’t understand what else is going on in the world, unless you really take an initiative to look,” Kips Bay resident Andrew Bottimore said.
Bottimore and Bethany Maddison visited the park to picnic among the cedars.
“I feel like sometimes it’s easy to get lost,” Maddison said.
She said she loves the sense of soaking up a little nature in the middle of Manhattan.
“Ghost Forest” is a new public art installation by Maya Lin, perhaps best known as the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
“Maya Lin is one of the most visionary artists working today,” said Madison Square Park Conservancy Deputy Director Brooke Kamin Rapaport.
Rapoport said the installation, made up of what she calls “towering tombstones,” is a call to action.
“Visitors to the project can walk through the work, meander through it and see the harsh realities facing us globally about the impact of climate change,” she said.
Around the globe, forests are dying.
“They are being killed off by rising temperatures, extreme weather events, salt water intrusions, fires…” Lin shared in a statement. “We have very little time left to change… how we live within the natural world.”
The trees were sourced from a dying forest in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. They fell victim to salinization, when salt water reaches the roots and ultimately kills the tree.
“When we first walked in here, I wasn’t sure, I said, ‘Are these trees real?'” visitor Atarah Dymally-Williams said.
She said she quickly realized they were real but not alive. Sadly, they reminded her of humans.
“We’re here, we’re alive, but are we really living?” she said. “We seem alive, but we aren’t really. Are we paying attention to what we’re doing?”
Despite, the somewhat sad notion, she also found beauty in the Ghost Forest.
“Trees also represent that life used to be here, and it was tall and beautiful,” she said.
In addition to the installation, the Madison Square Park Conservancy will host several public programs to raise awareness about climate change and will plant 1,000 trees and shrubs around the five boroughs in a nature-based approach to restore.