A bird, a snowman, a baby? Giant ‘baby’ art project hits Fordham Road shopping district

Some thought it was a snowman.

Others said it might be an Egyptian sphinx.

One passerby guessed the latest piece of outdoor artwork along the borough’s largest shopping district was a larger-than-life portrait of the Monopoly man.

But no matter what it is exactly, Fordham Road has a new guest.

Community leaders gathered Wednesday, April 16 to unveil “Tomorrow,” a nine-foot wooden sculpture standing at E. Fordham Road and Webster Avenue for the next year.

Japanese artist Akihiro Ito built the piece by molding slabs of wood into a plump man-like being.

Ito said he thought the sculpture was a giant baby, but viewers are invited to find their own meaning.

“For me, it’s a baby,” he said. “But if anyone looks at this and feels any sort of human connection, I’ll be happy.”

Locals passing by the sculpture on a recent afternoon definitely felt something – a mixture of amusement and confusion.

Some stopped to give the chubby wooden sculpture a wide hug, or a firm poke in its midsection. Others observed it from a cautious distance, trying to guess just what exactly it was.

“It’s a snowman, right?” asked Parvez Rana, who works at a nearby snack stand on Fordham Road.

“What is it? Is it Egyptian?” asked shopper Maria Macchia, adding: “I just like it, that’s all.”

“I just like that it’s different, “said a local who only gave her name as Rosalind after giving “Tomorrow” a hug. “For me, it means renewal.”

The Fordham Road Business Improvement District commissioned the piece in collaboration with the city Department of Transportation’s Art program. From 2012 to 2013, the same wooden public art stood at the entrance to Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn.

Fordham BID officials said they hope the statue will invite visitors to slow down and take in their surroundings as part of the BID’s ongoing program of adding seating and beautifying the area.

“Sometimes Fordham road is very commercial heavy, retail heavy, a place that people just pass through,” said Deputy BID Director Daniel Bernstein. “But I want to make it a place where people can stop, look around and stay awhile.”

Reach Reporter Ben Kochman at (718) 742–3394. E-mail him at bkochman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @benkochman.

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