Tuesday, December 7, 2021

“Steel Root” Sculptures Dominate Naples Botanical Garden’s Landscape

“When you walk away from the roots and go on with your life, hopefully the next time you look at a tree, your mind will travel underground and see things not readily apparent. We all have roots. We all have histories. We all have mysteries below the surface.” ~ Steve Tobin

The Naples Botanical Garden presents Steve Tobin: Nature Underground exhibit through September 6, 2021. On display throughout the Garden are dramatic steel and bronze sculptures evoking the Power of the Unseen theme. 

As you enter the Garden, you are greeted with Tobin’s “Dancing Roots” and as you meander throughout, you will experience 12 epic and thought-provoking contemporary sculptures. Steve has created sculptures in glass, clay, bronze to steel.

For Tobin, he wanted to create steel root sculptures on the grandest scale to show his reverence for nature. His Steel Root Series was inspired by the years he lived in Japan and his memory when he watched calligraphers draw. 

The shapes of the drawings have meanings. As Tobin shaped his sculptures, they became different elements of the anatomy. For him, the metaphor of the roots is connectedness and unseen power. A root presents a broad metaphor that any person in any culture; any time period can draw meaning from. 

Imagine a wild fig in South Africa having the deepest root system in existence—it extends 40 stories underground. At the Botanical Garden, it is a massive baobab tree, also a South African native with impressive roots and an unbelievable life span—roughly 3000 years. This is the power of the unseen. 

Just looking at Steve’s Dancing Root series, depending on the angle of your view, you’ll come away with different interpretations. The Root Sculptures represent man’s relationship to his environment and those of the spirit and the body. 

Depending on the time of day, shadows create an added dimension to the steel structures. It makes you think about the root system of many plants in the garden and in your own landscape and how they absorb water and nutrients from the ground. The presence of Tobin’s sculpture changes the feel of the landscape and also how we feel and think about the sculptures.

Just like the roots of a tree, the most important things are not always visually obvious. It is not always about the shape, but how the Root Sculptures make you feel. 

Members and non-members are required time tickets so please reserve online. They have touchless water bottle filling stations and hand sanitizer stations. Masks are required in specified areas as noted by signage following existing Garden safety guidelines and Collier County mandate. The Garden is open 9 AM – 5 PM. It is suggested that you bring an umbrella and water bottle. Take time to sit and admire the Steel Root Sculptures. 

Naples Botanical Garden is located at 4820 Bayshore Boulevard, Naples.

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