Awakening to a new location

The D.C. sculpture of a man struggling to escape from the earth will finally break free from its home of 28 years.

The sculpture, entitled, “The Awakening,” will be moved from Hains Point near the National Mall to a location in Maryland near the Potomac River this March, said Amy Blank, the associate curator of The Sculpture Foundation, which owns “The Awakening,” by artist J. Seward Johnson Jr.

Some have interpreted the piece as an expression of anger with the pollution of the earth, or a benevolent figure rising to spread his joy. Blank said that Johnson wanted the piece to be ambiguous.

“He wants to encourage everyone who sees it to come up with their own interpretation for what it means; why this giant is there, why he is coming out of the earth, and what his message might be,” Blank said.

The statue cannot remain in its present location because Congress has reserved the site for a future presidential monument, Blank said.

The National Harbor, its future home, is a 300-acre business and recreational development project on the Potomac River in Prince George’s County, Md.

Rocell Viniard, the director of marketing for National Harbor, said that the sculpture will serve as a symbolic piece of art at the National Harbor.

“Because it’s called ‘The Awakening,’ we view the National Harbor as the awakening of the Potomac River,” Viniard said of the 17-foot sculpture.

The National Harbor is being developed by the Peterson Companies and should be ready for the giant in March. Milton V. Peterson, founder and chairman, was inspired by the sculpture and purchased it for $740,000, according to report in The New York Times article last.

“The river has so far been considered a divider of D.C., Maryland and Virginia and Mr. Peterson’s goal is to enliven the river, and get rid of the border between the three and unite the area,” Viniard said.

“The Awakening,” was installed in 1980 as one of 500 other pieces in a citywide art exhibition. In 1986 Congress passed a law stating that only commemorative public art could remain permanently on National Park Service land in Washington.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.