A photo of a colorful sculpture in the park.

Image: Natsuki Takauji, The Window, 2014, steel tubes, fabricated plexiglass panels | The Art Students League of New York

In a public ceremony on June 16th, seven up and coming artists from New York City’s Art Students League will reveal their new sculptures. They are the sixth year of Riverside Park South’s “Model to Monument” program. And its last.

But don’t mourn: M2M has filled the park with nearly 50 sculptures since 2010, some lasting only a summer, some permanent.

This year, the Model to Monument theme is “Art in the Public Square.” Sculptures have used it to explore community goodness and cohesion, cultural roots and perspective, and urban nature. Nor is this the end of the program. Next year, it is expected to re-emerge in a new location, though one has not been chosen yet.

Aaron Bell’s “Stand Tall, Stand Loud,” one of the pieces, has received national attention when the seven-foot tall steel sculpture, topped by a symbolic noose, was not allowed to be placed in the park, a decision that came from the city via the Parks Department. He was allowed to display his sculpture only once he had replaced the noose with a pair of wide-open mouths. Bell, a black artist, cites Martin Luther King as his direct inspiration.

He wanted it to “generate the type of dialogue that will help people recognize the common ground of decency and respect that we all stand on.” It has certainly generated much dialogue, but he could wish for more respect.

Other pieces include a stainless steel bird by Sheila Berger, a pair of faces made of fractured cement by Tanda Francis, and a steel rocket shape by Sarah Thompson Moore. Moore is a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the only student chosen for Model to Monument from outside the Art Students League. The ASL itself is a 140-year-old school set just south of Central Park, from whose halls have come O’Keeffe, Pollock, and Rothko.