Meet Umi: Massive, interactive sculpture installed in Aurora

Aug 18, 2023

The 21-foot-tall sculpture will have a permanent place within Hogan Park at Highlands Creek.

AURORA, Colo. — A new interactive sculpture is making its debut in Aurora.

The 21-foot-tall sculpture “Umi” will be completed Saturday at The Aurora Highlands’ public art park – Hogan Park at Highlands Creek.

Created by Daniel Popper, an acclaimed multidisciplinary artist from South Africa, the public will be able to view the sculpture beginning Saturday. Umi is Popper’s debut installation in Colorado, where he and his wife once lived.

The sculpture, which depicts the convergence of woman and tree, stands more than two-stories tall with a designated space within the art for the public to explore.

Umi, which means “ocean” in Japanese, was inspired by the concept of “Gaia,” the primordial mother and ancestral goddess who shaped and nurtured all life.  

“Colorado, with its breathtaking landscapes and vibrant communities, in many ways is a second home to me, offering a nurturing haven away from our beloved Cape Town, South Africa,” Popper said.

“With Umi finding her permanent home in Colorado, I am filled with deep gratitude and excitement. The Aurora Highlands has infused a profound appreciation for artistic expression into Umi and its public art park, Hogan Park at Highlands Creek. We hope these installations will serve as a beacon of inspiration, elevating and illuminating the hearts and minds of Aurora and Colorado as a whole.”

Popper’s installations have graced public and private spaces worldwide, including Afrikaburn in his home country of South Africa, Boom Festival in Portugal, and Electric Daisy Carnival and Electric Forest in the United States.

“Daniel’s art masterfully weaves together the essence of nature and humanity, creating awe-inspiring installations in spaces where people can come together and experience an overwhelming sense of unity and positivity,” said Ferreira, director of on-site development and principal at The Aurora Highlands.

Popper’s sculpture joins other pieces of original art within Hogan Park at Highlands Creek, including work from contemporary artists like Olivia Steele, Hunter Brown and Lisa Solberg.  

“It’s what I’ve always admired about his work, and I could not be more honored to call The Aurora Highlands home to Umi,” Ferreira said. “The grand scale and interactive features of this installation are captivating, making it impossible not to engage with. It’s inspiring to witness how artistic expressions like this ignite conversations and curiosity, even among those who might not initially be drawn to art. Umi perfectly represents our commitment to fostering vibrant communities that celebrate life and the beauty of human connection.”