Artist Tristan Lowe created this 52 foot long sculpture of a sperm whale, cheekily named Mocha Dick, from sewn industrial felt over an inflatable form. According to the artist, the piece was intended as an environmental statement, to give the viewer the experience of "the Other." It was created for Philadelphia's Fabric Workshop and Museum.
I love the artist's choice to leave the sculpture white, as it lends an ethereal or magical flavor to what might otherwise be visually read as a hulking form of heavyweight ungainly felt. The white whale is, of course, a reference to Melville's famous Moby Dick, but also seems to be a savvy aesthetic choice. Despite its humble and earthy materiality, the sculpture truly transcends its components, and ends up looking as delicate as a 52 foot long whale sculpture can --- encrusted with lovingly-sewn barnacles and seamed with the scars of the whale's long co-existence with human-kind.
Many scientists consider the Sperm Whale to have the brightest conservation outlook of any whale species, so perhaps this piece is also an emblem of hope. However, many other species of whales, notably the North Atlantic Right Whale and the Western Pacific Gray Whale, are still in desperate straits. 'Save the Whales' may have been one of the original and most recognizable calls to action of the burgeoning environmental movement in the 70's --- but Lowe's beautiful sculpture surely reminds us why this is still one bumper sticker slogan that retains it's power and relevance today.