Outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, there’s a piece of public art that some passersby find puzzling.
“You would sort of walk by it and be like, ‘Huh,’” art critic Jillian Steinhauer says. “And then you do a double-take, and you're like, ‘Wait, what is this weird tornado-ice cream cone form doing in this plaza in front of Barclays Center?’ And that makes you want to stop and look at it again and get closer.”
The sculpture is called “Ona” and is the work of Ursula von Rydingsvard. It’s a 19-foot-high, abstract, bronze sculpture, based on a model carved from cedar — the artist’s preferred material. Like this one, all of her sculptures keep you guessing, but also draw you in.
Steinhauer describes von Rydingsvard’s work as “totemic” and compares it to ancient monuments like Stonehenge. If you visit an archaeological ruin like Stonehenge, there’s a kind of compelling mystery to the experience: You stand in awe before this ancient monument and are left trying to figure out who made this, and how, and why?
We may never fully understand the secrets of Stonehenge, but the artist who made this enigmatic sculpture outside the Barclays Center is just a few subway stops away. Producer Zoë Saunders visits von Rydingsvard’s Brooklyn studio to try to unravel the mystery of this monumental woodworking artist.
Ursula von Rydingsvard studio
You can see Ursula von Rydingsvard’s work at The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, through July 28. The sculpture in front of Barclays Center in Brooklyn is a permanent installation.