The Peace Fountain: Scaring Peace into Any and All Onlookers?

I had a night scheduled up in Harlem, so I looked into things I could stop at along the way to kill time. Getting of the subway at 110th St, you notice that it is also called Cathedral Parkway. Being a fan of religious architecture (I went to a college that was built in similar fashion) I headed into the heart of an area steeped in religious buildings. I took this first shot at the corner of 110th and Amsterdam:

What’s that in the trees?

With one church in the foreground and the imposing form of St. John the Divine in the background, my eye was instead drawn to that odd shape in the trees. As my curiosity coincided with the direction I planned on taking, I headed up Amsterdam to get a better view.

The first view of the top of the fountain.

Oh, ok, it’s some form of religious statue in the park. Very cool.

And that might be the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen.

And…wait. Are we in Tim Burton’s yard? Nope, it’s the Biblical Garden between two churches. For those unfamiliar, a Biblical Garden is a garden with plants named in the Bible. The centerpiece seems to be this fountain, designed by Greg Wyatt in 1985, and is named the Peace Fountain. It is surrounded by plaques with quotes from various philosophers and artists.

These plaques surround the whole fountain landscape.

Looking at the base, it should be noted that there is no water. It is not an active fountain.

One of a few bible stories surrounding the fountain base. This one includes the dedication of the fountain.

The base with no water running in it. Actually adds to the creepiness. Especially with a head hanging by a tendon above it.

Are those praying hands holding a human heart?

The statue depicts the Archangel Michael, surrounded by several “giraffes” (I put that in quotes as they REALLY don’t look like giraffes), decapitating Lucifer, whose head hangs by a tendon beneath the giant crab they have fought on. Included on the crabs back are the sun and the moon. The moon faces west while the sun faces east. I fail to understand why such a graphic depiction of violence would be called the “Peace” Fountain, but this is what was decided upon and created.

Yeah, I don’t want to know what he’s gonna do to that “giraffe.”

Brings back the vengeful God idea.

While here, the clouds parted and I got some interesting shots of the sky with the fountain in the foreground. I’ve been fighting with lighting settings in this area of photography as usually the option is either a nice detailed subject with a whited out sky, or a detailed sky with a silhouette. Here was no different and I present both shots as I think they both work with this piece:

Focus on the clouds and you get an interesting silhouette.

Focus on the statue and it looks like the light of the heavens shining down on the execution.

As I left to view the cathedral and continue onto my engagement, I took two parting shots:

More shadow play. Looks very interesting. Always remember to look up.

The full fountain campus, with a few people reading around the fountain. They must like the macabre.

There will be no new entry next week as I will be on a trip to New Orleans for a wedding. Hopefully I will have enough time in two weeks to put up another entry. Continuing on this walk, it would be the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (just the exterior as they close at 6pm so I didn’t spend much time inside). See you in two weeks!

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About nsantasier

I am an actor, fight choreographer, playwright, and photographer based in and around NYC. I shoot on a Canon Rebel XS with either a Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens or a Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS Telephoto Zoom lens as they are the only lenses I currently own.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Art, Artsy, harlem, Morningside Heights, NYC, Peace Fountain, Sculpture, St. John the Divine. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Peace Fountain: Scaring Peace into Any and All Onlookers?

  1. Pingback: A Return to the Cathedral of St John the Divine | Visions of my World

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