Learn more about the 2-story sculpture new to The Aurora Highlands

Aug 21, 2023

DENVER (KDVR) — A two-story sculpture named “Umi” came to life on Saturday at Hogan Park in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood.

Daniel Popper added the interactive exhibit as part of the Art in the Park program. Popper is a South African sculpture artist specializing in large, human-like sculptures made of wood, fiberglass and natural fibers. He focuses on the relationship between humans and nature.

Umi was part of Popper’s human nature exhibit which includes five sculptures commissioned by The Morton Arboretum. Umi sat in Chicago this past year before moving to Denver permanently. She joined over 20 other installations in Hogan Park at Highlands Creek this weekend.

According to Popper’s Instagram, “Umi” means “life” in Swahili and “mother” in Arabic. According to the Aurora Highlands press release, it also means “ocean” in Japanese.

Umi is inspired by the concept of “Gaia.”

“The world, as conceived by environmental scientist John Lovelock, is a vast entanglement of living things that collectively define and maintain the conditions conducive to life,” Popper wrote on his website. “To this holistic ideal of the earth as a self-regulating organism, Lovelock gave the name Gaia, borrowed from Greek mythology. Born from the primordial chaos, Gaia is the ancestral mother of all life, the ur-goddess by whom the earth was shaped and populated. Terra Mater in Latin; Mother Earth in our own words.”

Umi’s mother-like qualities include the branches coming out of her stomach. She’s seen holding her stomach and cradling the branches coming out of her.

She looks similar to the trolls in Breckenridge and Cripple Creek, but it’s not by the same creator. Umi’s appearance in Colorado follows the new troll in Cripple Creek named Rita. Rita is a sibling to the well-known troll in Breckenridge.

While Umi isn’t part of the troll family, she’s similar in style and much closer to Denver than the other sculptures if you’re looking for a quick day visit for local artwork.