HELL’S KITCHEN — When an off-kilter shape appeared to Jordan Baker-Caldwell in a dream years ago, the artist quickly forgot about it.
But as he worked on a piece weeks later, it started to come back to him.
“After I’d finished it, I realized it came from this dream I had,” he recalled. “I didn’t know what it was exactly, but I knew that I had to make it.”
That piece was an early version of “Ascension" — a 9-foot, tubular sculpture that will be unveiled at a new canoe-shaped public plaza at West 36th Street and Ninth Avenue on Aug. 9.
A watercolor rendering of "Ascension."
For the Hell’s Kitchen resident of nearly a decade, the structure represents “upward motion, perseverance [and a] positive look toward the future.”
“That’s what I think of when I think of ‘Ascension,’” he said. “It also has a lot to do with the sense of time, the way that it’s balanced on edge.”
Baker-Caldwell crafted the sculpture at a studio in Queens, using weathering steel that develops a protective coating when it rusts.
“It gets this kind of rich, amber, brownish-reddish color that protects the piece and looks beautiful,” he explained. “It gives it a natural feel.”
Though the artist grew up in Harlem, he often visited Hell’s Kitchen with his mother — a jewelry designer who brought her wares to trade shows at the Javits Center.
Years of work went into bringing the sculpture to the neighborhood, from a Kickstarter campaign raising money to produce it to partnering with the Hudson Yards/Hell’s Kitchen Alliance to plan its installation.
“For me it’s important because this neighborhood has meant so much to me for years of my life,” Baker-Caldwell said. “This piece will hopefully be the first of many in the neighborhood.”