Sep 132012

After catching a gorgeous sunset on the Potomac at National Harbor, Maryland, I took a walk to the marina admiring the yachts and the lights of the nearby Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed what appeared to be a large hand. Slightly startled, I turned to face it directly.

What Did I See in National Harbor?

The Awakening, National Harbor

The Awakening, National Harbor

The Awakening (1980), a sculpture created by J. Seward Johnson, Jr. depicts a giant bearded man breaking through the sandy beach. In 2008, the sculpture was installed at National Harbor, just a few miles south of Washington D.C.

The feeling I got was a sense of the man’s desperation to escape the confines of the earth, limb by limb. Seeing the sculpture at night in such a small area seemed to intensify that sense of urgency.

The Awakening, National Harbor

The Awakening, National Harbor

Of course, some might just see it as an amusing piece of work. What do you think?

  24 Responses to “An Awakening in National Harbor, Maryland”

  1. This is a very unique and unusual sculpture! I think it would be slightly eerie though seeing this face and hands coming out of the ground.

  2. I think I’d be started if I unexpectedly came upon that in the dark.

  3. Now this is one cool sculpture – especially so at night. I think I’d go with the trying to escape the confines of the earth theory. The artist had quite a vision.

  4. I like your interpretation, Cathy.
    I’ve also never seen it at night – I bet it has an eerie look.

  5. I want one in a neighborhood near me !

  6. How cool! It’s wonderful how the sculpture is able to convey so much with just 5 parts and left it open to so many interpretations. I like your interpretation, Cathy! I think seeing it at night adds that eerie feeling. We will need to look for this when we make it back east.

  7. Interesting sculpture! I like your interpretation. I find the position of the chairs interesting as well….suggests that you can come and watch him escape!

  8. That is one seriously funky sculpture. To me it symbolises people trying to break free from whatever holds them back.

  9. Very interesting. The expression on his face does look desperate, not like he’s doing a fun game of bury me in the sand. I think the chairs are interesting so close to the sculpture. Then, the sitters become part of the art, too.

  10. How creepy – and very cool! I would be so freaked out if I walked into the sculpture one night without knowing it’s there. Now that I know it’s there I want to pass by though 🙂

  11. I guess you could look at it two ways- he’s escaping the confines of the earth or becoming trapped. Very interesting and yes, a wee bit creepy to come across unexpectedly at night. 🙂

  12. That is a very cool sculpture – but I think I’d be totally freaked out if I stumbled upon it in the dark and I’m pretty sure that it would lead to a nightmare of being trapped in the sand and unable to escape!

  13. That’s an interesting art expression… and a little creepy!

  14. I don’t think it is amusing – I see the desperation and fatigue at his attempts to escape. I like it.

    Thanks for sharing it with us and thanks for linking up this week!

  15. Very unusual sculpture. I’m torn between being a bit freaked out at this Gulliver – and wanting to help free the man from his confines.

  16. Definitely different! I cannot imagine sitting in one of those lawn chairs trying to enjoy the view.

  17. Dang! I was just in Washington DC, and didn’t see this. . .. didn’t even know it was there. Will definitely put it on my future’s list.

  18. I really like it! Good shots

  19. I love great sculptures like this, and I can definitely appreciate the “escaping the confines” bit. 🙂

  20. Such an interesting sculpture, I would have to agree it looks like he is desperate for freedom. Creepy thing to come across at night!

  21. Yea, kinda creepy. It’s unique though.

  22. That is AWESOME. I love stuff like that and wish I could see it in person. You can tell by the chairs that it’s bigger even than it looks in these photos!

  23. Creepy? Yes. Creepily awesome! I think it would scare the crap out of me at night though.

  24. […] piece of his public art that I also came about by surprise in National Harbor, Maryland called The Awakening which evokes a much different reaction than this more ordinary scene in the […]

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