The recent art sculpture to adorn the city’s street has certainly sparked plenty of conversation. From Facebook to the local coffee shops, people are asking: “What in the world is that big baby by the Fitton Center?”
At least that was the question being posed by one curious onlooker who had made her way past the 9-foot-tall ‘Hatched Baby” sculpture in front of the Fitton Center, which shows a big blue baby being hatched out of an egg.
The fact of the matter is that the nine-foot-tall work of art has drawn so much attention and curiosity the last few weeks, that it just begs for an explanation. Something that Fitton Center Executive Director, Ian MacKenzie-Thurley was happy to provide.
“Our new exhibit ‘Hatched Baby’ by German artist Wolfgang Auer is certainly getting some attention out on Monument Street, and it’s been really fantastic to see Hamilton engaging in some lively and thoughtful discussion about art and what it represents to a community,” he said.
Auer’s piece has for many reasons went viral in conversation, mostly because of the sculptures size and attention to detail, but also for an unforeseen reason — some residents have perceived it as racist in nature.
“Yes, most black folk were offended and were asking questions like, ‘what does it mean,” said Hamilton City Councilman Archie Johnson, who received several questions about the sculpture. “‘Are they saying we were hatched?’”
Johnson, who is black, added, “there are so many who feel it is racist on the part of the Fitton Center.”
Auer is an internationally recognized artist who actually has a similar project, “Blue Baby,” which crawls. The idea for the project that is now in Hamilton centers around the anxieties of parenthood and really has nothing to do with race, Mackenzie-Thurley said. He noted that after construction, electricity that would help illuminate the sculpture so people could see its actual representation, has not been working, and that has likely fueled the confusion.
“The fact that we now have national and international artists seeking out the Fitton Center and Hamilton (Ohio’s City of Sculpture) to display their work speaks volumes to incredible strides Hamilton has been making in recent years both economically and socially as well as artistically,” he added.
He said kids are taking selfies with the sculpture and families have visited the nine-foot baby while at the Fitton Center.
“It is good we are talking about art — that is the whole point,” Mackenzie-Thurley said.
Members of the Fitton team assembled the work within a month after it arrived in early September. Auer was visiting with renowned Cincinnati-based architect A.M. Kinney, when he was put in touch with MacKenzie-Thurley. He then ended up getting a tour of Hamilton and was so impressed with the city’s top-shelf artistic landscape, he decided to leave his Hatched Baby in the hands of the Fitton Center.
Councilwoman Kathleen Klink put the Fitton team in touch with Lindenwald resident Marion Hixson, who speaks German, and was able to help translate assembly instructions.
After the concrete was laid and the assembly completed, the baby was stored until it was unveiled a few weeks ago, according to Kim Neal of the Fitton Center.
The sculpture is part of a series of large scale sculptures that Auer started working on in 2007 after the birth of his daughter. The work explores anxieties associated with modern parenting. That is the explanation for the baby’s inhuman color (bright blue), full set of teeth and huge size, which is not associated with a defenseless infant.
Neal said Auer’s fiberglass and resin sculpture is on a temporary loan.