Step outside the indoor pavilion during ArtHamptons and you’ll find yourself surrounded by a vast ‘territory of spirit’–the Sculpture Fields of Nova’s Ark Project. Nova, born Mihai Papa (1928-2009), was a sculptor, painter, architect and thinker of indomitable spirit, generosity and vision. His dream of coming to America from his native Romania nearly cost him his life: “Several times in life I was about to meet death. Each time I was spared, and each time I gained in courage, understanding and thankfulness. I want to do something phenomenal, to return the incredible gift I received.”
The ‘Integral Art’ throughout Nova’s Ark Project is the return of the gift. The alfresco museum features 50 of Nova’s trademark monumental sculptures, integrated with nature and architecture in powerful and daring ways. Galleries and event spaces were built by Nova to delight the eye with surprising features. His studio and home–the sculpted, ecological “Elliptical House”--was built by hand, as was “The Castle Barn,” a rustic, yet elegant space for weddings and special events. Visit The Blue Barn Gallery to see Nova’s colorful, playful 3-D florescent murals, a delightful juxtaposition to his majestic outdoor works.
Collectors, curators, gallerists and art consultants are welcome to contact the directors for private viewing. Public visiting hours and upcoming special events are on the website.
“My mission is to put as much spirit as I can into matter... I love painting, but I developed a powerful desire to carve in steel because of its elemental, cosmic quality...I love the challenge of taking this raw, resistant, independent and proud material and making it vibrate with human spirit... Iwant to create sculpture that represents the eternal dreams of humans and explores the sacred relation between man and cosmos... art that leads us to places where we’re reminded of our greatness, places where we perceive again our majesty.”
Enjoy the experience. Stroll, breathe deeply, reflect, dream.
Nova Mihai Popa
Mihai Popa, professionally known simply as ‘Nova’ was born in Transylvania. Having graduated from The Academia de Belle-Arte in Bucharest with a master’s degree in painting and monumental art, this rising young star on the Romanian art scene was sent on cultural exchanges to several East European countries and China, but never to Western Europe or America, which had been his dream from childhood. Today, his works remain in several Eastern European museums as well as in private collections in France, Italy and the United Kingdom.
Eventually Nova made his way on foot from Romania to Yugoslavia and on to Italy. This required him to cross two heavily guarded borders, almost losing his life, but not his indomitable spirit. In Carrara, Nova made his first sculptures from discarded marble, which he later sold in France and Italy. Based on his “exceptional artistic merit,” Nova was then invited to America where, within six months he had exhibited at the New Orleans Museum of Art and the A.L. Lowe gallery.
After relocating to New City in 1970, Nova began an exciting period of artistic exploration. He designed large-scale open air projects and built room-sized models of colorful, ecological and functional “cities of the future.”
His desire to make large public outdoor sculptures led to his move to Water Mill in 1986, where he established a studio for educating young artists and constructed the now well-known Elliptical House. This hand-crafted, sculptured home, made of recycled wood is a prototype for new forms of living spaces and a much photographed Hampton’s landmark.
The culmination of Nova’s efforts and philosophy is The Ark Project, Inc. founded in 1993 to express his concept of “Integral Art” as a unification of sculpture, painting, architecture and philosophy. As Nova stated “Integral Art expresses the wholeness of human life in the framework of the natural universe.” The Ark Project encompasses a 95-acre preserve consisting of sculpture fields, galleries, performance spaces and workshops.
In 2000/2001, Nova designed, built and installed two large sculptures in China. These monumental works are now a permanent part of the International Center in Suzhou, outside of Shanghai. At ScopeHamptons 2006, four of Nova’s large steel works were featured in a special “Ark Project Sculpture Garden” exhibit. In 2007-2008, he installed three commissioned pieces for a private collector in Southampton, New York, as well as a sculpture at the East End Arts Council Headquarters in Riverhead, New York. From May 2007- 2008, two of Nova’s works were exhibited at The Fields Sculpture Park at Art Omi in Ghent, New York. . A half dozen Nova sculptures have been on exhibit at the Pratt Institute Sculpture Park in New York City since 2001. A sculpture was installed July 2012 at the Outdoor Living Gallery, Brecknock Hall, in Greenport, New York. This year ArtHamptons has moved their annual international art fair to the Sculpture Fields of Nova’s Ark Project, where it’s expected to remain for the forseeable future. During ArtHamptons, many of Nova’s works will be on view.
Nova has been featured on Fox-TV, Hamptons TV, Plum TV and HG-TV. In September 2012 Nova’s sculptures will be seen in American Art Collector magazine, when they publish a feature on prominent art collectors in the Hamptons. . Articles about his work have appeared in The New York Times, New York Newsday, Hamptons Style, Landscape Architecture, Sculpture Magazine, New York Sun, Dan’s Papers, the coffee table book “In the Spirit of the Hamptons” , “International Directory of Sculpture Parks and Gardens” and other publications.
Below is a sampling of Nova's works from the desktop version of the site. Please visit us on a desktop computer, when you get a chance, to see all the images, galleries and more content.
Public Visiting Hours & Events
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