Works in Public at Riverside Park

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday November 2, 2023


The Art Students League of New York in partnership with NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program and the Riverside Park Conservancy will unveil two new large-scale artworks next week by League artists Marco Palli (above) and Sophie Kahn (below) as part of the 2023 Works in Public program. The sculptures will be unveiled at Riverside Park at 145th Street in a public ceremony on November 9, from 3 to 4 pm, and remain on view through August 2024. The program resumed last year after a three year hiatus due to the pandemic.


Works in Public, formerly known as Model to Monument, is a professional development program founded in 2010 in partnership with NYC Parks to guide League students through the process of creating large-scale sculpture for outdoor public spaces within the context of one-year and two-year programs at the Art Students League of New York.

Under the guidance of Works in Public alumni Haksul Lee and Natsuki Takauji, alongside instructors at the League, the program supports artist-participants in every phase of the conception, creation, and installation of site-specific public sculpture, culminating in a one-year public exhibition at Riverside Park and Riverside Park South.

Marco Palli, a Venezuela-born artist living in New York City said of his work and process: “In my studio, I work serially, experimenting with materials that lead my process accordingly. Generally, I recognize with all the objects I make very specific things about my identity, finding a relationship that become obvious pertaining to some qualities that I notice in my work. Out of my studio, I am actively questioning the world around me philosophically. Not as if I am looking for answers, but finding answers in the questions and the questioning. Altogether, a journey of self-discovery. 

Our Gates epitomizes my process together with my individual and collective identity. I am interested in the technical implications of making public art. Hands on experiences have always worked better for me in terms of strengthening my understanding of how to do things. In terms of erecting public works of art, what limit and define the artwork itself is the result of the sum of the regulations and permits in term of public safety, funding and budget concerns, just as well as the ultimate purpose of the artwork itself. Going through the eye of the needle has made me question my motivation for wanting to it, and revising this question has been a great gift to elevate my practice. “

Sophie Kahn, born in Australia and now living in Brooklyn, said, “My work addresses the complexity and the poetics of capturing the human body in the digital age. I misuse precisely engineered 3D scanning devices. When these scanners meet a moving body they break down, generating glitch. Portrait of t. is drawn from a larger series of 3D scanned portraits of people who have undergone life-altering physical transformations. My work depicts individuals who often seem caught in private moments of reflection or reverie.  Even though they are fragmented by technology, their gestures still read as emotional and very human. The gaps and holes allow the viewer to see the city framed through the figure’s body.

“I’m interested in the ways in which our private lives are lived in public – either literally (especially during 2020 and 2021 when much of our social lives moved outdoors) or figuratively (in the public spaces of the internet.) Locating these figures in the public space with minimal narrative offers viewers the opportunity to encounter them in an intimate way. Many other monuments in the park pay tribute to war heroes; this work depicts an anonymous person who is equally worthy of remembrance.” 

Whitney Dearden, Director of Public Programming, Riverside Park Conservancy said: “Public art has always been an essential part of our programmatic offerings, and the Riverside Park Conservancy is thrilled to welcome back the Art Students League and Works in Public to Riverside Park. As part of our commitment to activating public greenspace, we invite parkgoers to visit these sculptures over the next year and experience a familiar park in a new and exciting way.”

For more information please visit: