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Lorenzo Quinn’s Support addresses the threat climate change poses to Venice.
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Adam Berry/Getty Images
Quinn sculpted the work off-site.
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Courtesy of Halcyon Gallery
The team installed the sculpture with the aid of cranes mounted on floating barges.
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Courtesy of Halcyon Gallery
Quinn points to human hands as a source of power.
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Unsinkable Sculpture
An Italian artist uses a monumental pair of hands to address a global concern

Paul Cates | for Scholastic Art

Classic architecture and contemporary art collided in Venice, Italy, this summer. Italian artist Lorenzo Quinn installed a monumental sculpture, titled Support, in one of the city’s canals. Massive white hands reach out of the water up the walls of a 15th-century palace. Through the work, which is best seen from the water, the artist hopes to draw attention to global concerns about climate change.

Prime Location

Tourists from around the world travel to Venice for art, architecture, culture, cuisine, and history. A maze of canals snake through the city, which is located on a group of islands off Italy’s northwestern coast. Residents and tourists alike experience the city on foot, by bicycle, or by boat. Instead of taking taxi cabs, people hop on water taxis and water buses to get around. Quinn installed Support on the Grand Canal, one of the largest waterways in the city, where it was sure to get lots of attention.

Sculpting on a Large Scale

Quinn created Support off-site. First, the artist sculpted the hands out of wax. He created a mold based on the wax sculpture. Then he cast the finished sculpture using the mold.

Transporting the gigantic sculpture posed difficulties. Because the work was being installed in a canal, Quinn carefully moved the hands into place on a boat. Once they were safely delivered, the hands were positioned to appear as if they are supporting the building, preventing it from crumbling into the water.

A Global Message

Climate change poses a very real threat to Venice. Rising sea levels are causing the canals to rise and could potentially lead to the destruction of the island city. A study released in March shows that if climate change isn’t curbed soon, Venice will be completely underwater by 2100. The traditional architecture and centuries-old building materials will be no match for destructive waters.

Concern for his children’s future in the face of global warming drove Quinn to create this artwork. In fact, he used one of his children’s hands as the model for this sculpture. “I wanted to sculpt what is considered the hardest and most technically challenging part of the human body,” the artist explains. “The hand holds so much power—the power to love, to hate, to create, to destroy.”