The Morton Arboretum in Illinois, USA, became the home of a collection of large sculptures created by South African artist Daniel Popper. As his largest and first significant exhibition, Human+Nature showcased five sculptures ranging from 15 to 26 feet tall across a span of 1,700 acres of land in Arboretum Garden. The theme of the display described the connection between nature and humans. And it inspires awe in people so as for them to connect more with nature. Even the Arboretum matches the exhibition concept perfectly as its mission is also to connect people with trees.

Having widespread popularity as a public art installer, Popper seems to have given his all when creating the incredible structures. The sculptures are made by combining wood, fiberglass, glass-reinforced concrete, and steel showing the perfect balance between nature and humanity.

These monumental sculptures represent the influence of the environment on the sculptor and urge others to admire the two entities, mother-nature, and humans, not as two separate things but as a single unit.

UMI, the sculpture of a mother gently cradling her baby bump, is an exceptional one among these five sculptures with a height of 20.5 feet. The name describes the creation perfectly. UMI in Arab means “mother” or “my mother.” It shows how much thought Popper has spent on creating the sculptures and the uniqueness of his creations. To us, UMI seems like she is pondering about her impending motherhood. 

The way those entwined branches are cradling the baby safely in her arms is beautiful. It reminds us how nature cradles her human children safely around her arms, protecting them all the time.

Another sculpture in the collection, named Heartwood, depicts a woman’s place split into two parts as leaves fluttering across her body. The two parts are separated so that people can walk between them. One side of the sculpture shows a human fingerprint, and the other side shows the Heartwood of the tree, which is like the fingerprint of a tree containing its oldest growing rings. With this, Popper shows the interconnectedness, the similarity between people and trees. It also speaks out that both parties equally belong to nature.

Each sculpture has a separate story behind it. But Popper is more interested in letting the viewers come up with their thoughts rather than pondering the message he tries to give out. As a true nature lover and an artist, Popper loves nature and tries to show its importance, which he managed to fulfill through his masterpieces.

Below are the pictures of the sculptures from Human+Nature for you to enjoy. The exhibition will run for at least a year. If you love nature and art, visit the Morton Arboretum and watch these fantastic creations through your eyes.

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