An integration of art and nature. That’s how Tundra Wolf, co-owner of the Nova’s Ark Project out of Water Mill, described the installation built on a 90-acre plot, where barns double as sculpture workshops, and sheep drink from water troughs behind towering, futuristic forms of twisted steel.
Tundra emphasizes the importance of sustainability in everything the project does. Her elliptical home is designed to leave a minimal footprint on the Earth, a system of rotation gives the land time to recover from cattle grazing and various measures from installing new ponds to cultivating wild grasses help to reduce soil erosion. It wouldn’t be unusual to see a family of deer peering shyly through the folds and gaps of a 15-foot sculpture.
“Our future journey from terra firma to heaven is as important as the ancient journey from ocean to land,” Tundra says in explaining the unique approach.
The project is taking an active role in conservation efforts both here at home and abroad. Greeting visitors is a pride of multicolored, life-size lion statues, part of a collaboration this summer between the Nova’s Ark Project, Tusk and the African Community and Conservation Foundation. The initiative seeks to use art to raise awareness about the endangerment of African lions.
This philosophy of harmony and natural balance is reflected in the many works of art that populate the landscape, produced by Romanian-born sculptor, architect and polymath Nova Mihai Popa. Before his passing in 2009, Nova produced a litany of inspired pieces out of his workshop on the same land, and developed over a long career a masterful and entirely original style. The project opened to the public in 2014.
Each sculpture has an eerie quality of timelessness that evokes both the ancient past and a glittering, spacefaring future. The five metallic figures of Astronauts resemble the monolithic Polynesian heads of Easter Island and also the sleek, aerodynamic curves of a NASA rocket. As one stands in the shadow of these forms the effect is completed by a neigh from a nearby horse or the colorful flash of a butterfly that grounds the whole experience in a harmonious natural world.
Growing up in communist Romania as a young man before escaping persecution and moving to the United States, Nova was intimately familiar with two vastly different societies and, in Tundra’s words, “saw the beauty and flaws of both systems.” His art reflects this understanding by returning to an almost primitive aesthetic. These sculptures draw on universal symbols: stars, geometric shapes and human faces. His body of work may best be described as “universalist,” relevant to people of all cultures and creeds.
Among Nova’s insights that live on in the farm is a prototype in the design philosophy of a self-contained, self-sufficient Earth city, or habitats that minimize the exploitation of the planet. Such a vision is deeply relevant for the world today.
Nova’s Ark Project is located at 60 Millstone Road in Water Mill. It can be reached at 631-537-0061 or novasarkproject.com.
Two can’t-miss culinary event are coming to Nova’s Ark next weekend: Dan’s GrillHampton and Taste of Two Forks! Only a few tickets remain for Grill on Friday, August 20, and Taste on Saturday, August 21, so don’t wait to get yours! You can learn more and purchase tickets at DansTaste.com.