Hearts are open to a new sculpture in Haddonfield

A new heart-shaped sculpture, “Low-Poly Open Heart,” was installed off Kings Highway a few weeks ago.

Those who say love is blind may not have seen the new sculpture installed in Haddonfield. A new heart-shaped sculpture, “Low-Poly Open Heart,” was installed off Kings Highway a few weeks ago.

The Haddonfield Outdoor Sculpture Trust installed the statue in preparation for Valentine’s Day, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the installation was delayed, according to Stuart Harting, chair of the Haddonfield Outdoor Sculpture Trust.

Out of 12 entries throughout the northeast, this will be artist M.L Duffy’s first piece ever to be displayed in Haddonfield, according to Harting.
The heart, located at 115 Kings Highway, is constructed entirely of aluminum diamond plate metal and mixes a modern aesthetic, with a splash of color, to the streets of Haddonfield.

“I think it is a very good-looking piece and evokes a lot of comment as people walk by, it’s a feel-good piece,” Harting said. “People will smile at it when they walk by.”

Duffy, an art teacher at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C, was inspired to create the piece while missing his wife of 12 years, Lizzie, who was visiting Japan for work. Encapsulating his feelings for his wife, he constructed an abstract heart. According to Duffy, the piece is relatable, tying us together as a population through universal emotions and feelings.

“It is something we experience collectively as a group, being in love, affirmation, missing your spouse … all of these different aspects, it has,” he said.

Although he was successful in his final product, the journey to create the sculpture was not an easy one for Duffy.

The piece was designed using a 3D modeling program, introduced to Duffy by one of his art students. In this specific program, algorithms were used to produce model images, in this case a heart.

“It is a great example of a teacher learning from the students,” Duffy said.

After multiple attempts at constructing his heart from wood, Duffy discovered it would collapse. It was not until he decided to use recycled corrugated plastic given by a parent of one of his students that his piece was able to come to life in the form of a durable sculpture.

“Low-Poly Open Heart” took approximately 40 hours to complete, half of which were spent on assembling it.

“Putting together a jigsaw puzzle with no indication of where the pieces go,’’ Duffy said.

“It gets very difficult.”

After it is assembled and welded, it is painted in tractor paint to withstand all weather conditions. Although the idea behind the sculpture was soft and sentimental, Duffy’s use of industrial and heavy materials serves as a complementary contrast to the final product.

Having spent 17 years working on his craft, Duffy attended the School of Architecture at the University of Maryland for two years before he took his first steel sculpture class and fell in love. Graduating with his bachelor’s degree in studio art from the University of Maryland, Duffy went on to get his MSA from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Duffy has worked on multiple hearts that have been shipped throughout the country. With some of his hearts being found in Oregon, Colorado, Georgia, Florida and Wyoming, this will be his first in New Jersey. Residents are encouraged to check out the new sculpture, as every heart is handmade, with unique but subtle differences, according to Duffy.

“It elevates the spirits, it is provocative and appeals to a variety of individuals tastes … proving that there is something for everyone in Haddonfield,” Harting said.

Although the sculpture is expected to remain in Haddonfield for the next year, it is available for purchase to residents who are interested. Anyone interested in finding out more about the sculpture can contact Harting through the HOST website at haddonfieldsculpture.org.