If you happen to be in New York before October 31st and it’s not pouring rain, you must visit the exhibit on the rooftop of  The Metropolitan Museum of Art called Big Bambu.  I had no idea what I would find, so you can imagine my wide-eyed surprise upon emerging from the elevator to see thousands of bamboo poles (actually 5500 so far according to the artist Mike Starn) lashed together with nylon mountain climbing rope to walk under, around, over and between.

To give you a sense of its monumental scale, it is about 100′ long, 50′ wide and 50′ high.  As the information in the brochure states, “It takes the form of a cresting wave that bridges the realms of sculpture, architecture and performance”.  The wave crests over the trees in Central Park and the views from the roof or any perch within the sculpture are spectacular.

There were two men working on the ever growing and evolving piece the day I was there and I had to ask how they started.  They pointed to a corner and said it started with three 30-40 foot long bamboo poles.  It has emerged several months later as a complex, intertwining, and evolving art form.  The poles are tied together with 50 miles of 3 different types of ropes in three colors, blue, red and orange.  Some of the poles were lashed together with very meticulous knots and others were a bit more haphazard.

There are footpaths constructed  internally, and if you wear rubber bottom flat shoes and plan ahead you can climb them with a guide. Don’t worry, there are bamboo rails to hold as you move upward and it seems very sturdy.

This is the brainchild of identical twin brothers, Doug and Mike Starn, who work collaboratively.  Mike explained to me on our artist guided tour that the piece is evolutionary and there is never a dull moment.  In life things move and change as does Big Bambu.

Even the extraordinary documented New York City dwelling red tail hawk, Pale Male, visits regularly.  He selects one of the highest perches and watches as the workers and artists continue their remarkable journey. This exhibit was a moment of great inspiration on many fronts;  simple materials (harvested bamboo and rope), size and scale,  imagination, cooperation and teamwork, creativity and passion.

To learn more about the Big Bambu special exhibit, visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website.

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