Coming in at a whopping 12 feet high, this 400-pound sculpture of a kneeling human figure would tower over an actual man of any size. Aptly entitled “Man,” this piece was made by Barrytown artist Andres San Millan using nothing but driftwood, which he collected in his almost-daily visits to different areas of the Hudson River.
Contorted in form, San Millan’s creation was inspired by the tragic history of Native Americans — and their virtual disappearance from the river’s shores. For the artist, the choice of driftwood as his medium embodies the Native American connection with nature. Collecting the wood and shaping the figure elicited “all kinds of thoughts: past and present, ideas, prejudices, fears and desires, loves and hates,” he says.
It took San Millan two months to construct his gigantic “Man.” There was very little planning done for the project; to do so “feels like living in the future. Creation wants to happen on the spot,” he says. In January, the completed work was moved to a conspicuous mid-Valley location about two miles away from the artist’s home. In a nod to its Native American roots, the piece was not driven to its new location, but put on a cart and towed down a main thoroughfare by a group of about 20 people. It’s nearly impossible to pass by without marveling at the colossal creation, which will remain in its current locale until the end of the year.
What’s next for the artist? We heard there might be a woman’s likeness in the future, but San Millan demurs. “It was mentioned a couple of times by friends, but it seemed to come from associative thinking,” he says. “Inspiration often likes to surprise.”
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