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Harlem's largest outdoor public art exhibition is on display. Here's what parkgoers will see.

Here's where Harlem's largest outdoor public art exhibition is on display
Here's where Harlem's largest outdoor public art exhibition is on display 02:17

NEW YORK -- Walks in the park just got a lot brighter in Harlem with the opening of a new large-scale sculpture exhibit spanning a stretch that winds through the area's public parks. Local artists are enriching the neighborhood with lots of community support.

Harlem Sculpture Gardens is the largest outdoor public art exhibit to ever hit the neighborhood.  

There is more than meets the eye at first glance. The new installations invite introspection. 

"We just opened up this whole world that wasn't there before and said, yes, you can be in this space," said collection co-presenter Michael Gormley, with the NY Artist Equity Association.

The "Unbroken" ballet dancer sculpture at St. Nicholas Park is made up of bullet casings.  CBS2

The "Unbroken" ballet dancer at an entrance to St. Nicholas Park displays Ukrainian strength through bullet casings.

A community effort

Gormley and Savona Bailey-McClain with the West Harlem Art Fund collaborated with community curators like ArtCrawl Harlem to support sculptors like Heather Williams, who calls her works "witnesses."

"Celia" watches over passersby in St. Nicholas Park, reminding them of the history of Harlem. CBS New York

"There's no way that I could have done this by myself," Williams said. 

Her sculpted bust, called "Celia," now watches over passersby in St. Nicholas Park, reminding them of the history of Harlem.

"I want to highlight the beauty of the texture of our hair," said Williams. "It's part of who we are. It's part of who I am."


Dianne Smith now sees her own sculpture on her daily morning walks. "Echoes in the Path" demonstrates the weaving work in her Belizean ancestry, with its twisting metal disks mounted on teak wood.

"The idea was to sort of mimic some of the patterns and windows and stacking of buildings and how there's a particular rhythm to that as well," Smith said. "Life is in cyclical. It keeps moving. It's not linear."

Marc Wilson's signature Style Marc flower-bombing finds blooms to bring out even more beauty in the various sculptures' messages.

"Representation matters," Wilson said. "Showing the community and showing young youth that these creative types of businesses can live here."

Climate-resilient art

The curators are addressing climate change at the same time. The ridge of rocks protruding from the parks are all along the same fault line.

"The excessive rain has actually shifted the land around these volcanic rocks, so we've actually started a resiliency coalition," explained Bailey-McClain.

Teaching youth teams to take care of street trees and implementing strategies to fortify the foliage from erosion, their efforts are developing into a long-term plan for the health of the parks and the neighbors who need them.

Take your own Harlem scavenger hunt for sculptures now through October in Morningside Park, St. Nicholas Park and Jackie Robinson Park, with more popping up throughout the summer.

Have a story idea or tip in Harlem? Email Jessi by CLICKING HERE.

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