Urgent Museum Notice

New York Ave Sculpture Project: Betsabeé Romero

Close-up photograph of a sculpture made of a truck tire carved with circular designs and painted gold and silver
Sep 28, 2018, to May 02, 2021

The New York Avenue Sculpture Project illustrates the museum’s long-term commitment to the artistic beautification of New York Avenue, fostering a vibrant new identity for the neighborhood just east of the White House. Established in 2010, the evolving public art program is a collaboration between the museum, the Downtown DC Business Improvement District (BID), the DC Office of Planning, and other local agencies.

The dynamic works of Mexico City-based Betsabeé Romero (b. 1963) form the next chapter in the New York Avenue Sculpture Project. To create her four sculptures developed expressly for this installation, Romero assembled carved and painted tires into totemic structures that speak to themes of human migration and the natural environment. She embraces materials and techniques relating to popular culture. Using a process similar to tattooing, she carves figures and intricate patterns into the sidewalls and treads of tires and then fills in the motifs with gleaming metallic paint. Romero’s sculptures are the first works featured in the Sculpture Project to incorporate interior lighting, which gives each piece an otherworldly glow.

View of New York Avenue showing a tall, totem-like sculpture made of four stacked truck tires with gold leaf embellishments and supported by two steel poles.

Betsabeé Romero, Huellas y cicatricez (Traces and scars), 2018; Four tires with engraving and gold leaf and steel support, approx. 192 1/2 x 86 5/8 x 9 3/4 in.; Courtesy Betsabeé Romero Art Studio

Exhibition Sponsors

New York Avenue Sculpture Project: Betsabeé Romero is made possible with funding provided by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Public Art Building Communities Program, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, with support provided by the Sue J. Henry and Carter G. Phillips Exhibition Fund. The exhibition is organized by the museum in partnership with the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) and with assistance from the Embassy of Mexico’s Cultural Institute.

  • Embassy of Mexico logo
  • amexcid
  • Mexican cultural institute
  • DC Commission
  • Downtown Dc

Previous Sculpture Projects

Magdalena Abakanowicz

Ten larger-than-life bronze sculptures of human bodies are installed in the middle of a city street. The bodies have no heads or arms, and are striding forward in five rows of two. While they are not naked, their wrinkled body-tight clothing makes no distinction between shirt and pants.
This 2014–2015 installation featured groups of Abakanowicz’s signature monumental headless human figures accompanied by flocks of simplified bird forms in flight.

Chakaia Booker

A large metal sculpture stands in the middle of the street, similar to an empty rectangular picture frame. The “frame” is crowded with undulating, coiling metal sculptural elements that occasionally end in spikes. Behind stand three vertical twisting, net-like metal sculptures.
This 2012–2014 installation comprised four of the artist's recycled tire sculptures, including a new work that Booker created specifically for the project.

Niki de Saint Phalle

Three abstract outdoor sculptures of voluptuous figures covered in bright patterns and dancing with outstretched arms.
The first installation of the project in 2010 featured works by French-born artist Niki de Saint Phalle, whose joyful works celebrate women, children, heroes, cultural diversity, and love.