For his piece “Smart Tree”, the artist, who emigrated from the Caribbean at age 12, drew on a recollection of an abandoned car in his father’s yard in Jamaica. Raised on cinder blocks for repair work that never got done, the vehicle rusted, and nature took hold: A lime tree sprouted through the floorboards, seeding deterioration with regrowth.
On the High Line, the plant life is an apple tree rising out of a Smartcar’s sunroof above West 23rd Street.
The tire treads covering the car’s exterior echo that sense of movement. And the tree—along with headlights that flash on at night thanks to solar panels installed in the windshield—evoke a life force at work.
“I didn’t want it to rest in the key of a post-apocalyptic narrative,” the 52-year-old artist said. “I wanted a sense of repurposing and hopefulness in it.”
The Smart Tree is on display until March 2017 on the High Line at West 23rd Street.