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A Giant Deer Lands in Inman Square

Wednesday, December 13, 2023
" ’Edge of the Forest’ highlights the delicate perimeter between civilization and wilderness "
  • The deer was inspired by the history of the Square being a “little bit out of the way.”   

  • Leaf is a 3,500-pound deer funded by the City’s Percent-for-Art ordinance. 


A crane carefully swung “Edge of the Forest,” a 12-foot-tall steel sculpture of a deer, into place in Vellucci Plaza, the heart of Cambridge’s Inman Square, in July. The sculpture's creator, Mark Reigelman watched as workers anchored it into place.  

The Brooklyn-based artist’s idea for the 3,500-pound deer—and its title—was inspired by the history of this recently reconstructed and improved intersection where Cambridge, Antrim and Hampshire (which becomes Beacon in Somerville) streets come together.  

Reigelman notes that, before 1876, this area was largely referred to as Atwood’s Corner for James Atwood, who had a house at the intersection and ran Atwood Stand, a grocery store.  

“Atwood, a traditional surname for someone who lives ‘at the wood,’ marked an on-the-nose rendition for what would become a region that lay on the proverbial edge,” Reigelman says. “In the 1950’s, when local streetcar service was shut down leaving Inman Square ‘just a little bit out of the way,’ the community developed its roots as a hub for fringe movements, artists, and activists.”

“Edge of the Forest”—which Reigelman has nicknamed “Leaf”—was funded via the City of Cambridge’s Percent-for-Art ordinance, which requires that 1 percent of costs of municipal construction projects be spent to develop public artwork. Through the Inman Square Intersection Improvements project, surrounding sidewalks and the plaza were also improved. Additionally, new water mains, bike lanes, and lights were installed, along with better storm drain systems to address the repercussions of our warming climate. 

“’Edge of the Forest’ highlights the delicate perimeter between civilization and wilderness,” Reigelman says. “By throwing New England’s native fauna into massive relief, it pays homage to Cambridge’s natural ecosystem and the region’s industrial history of glass and ceramic manufacturing.” 

The public art project is a collaboration between Cambridge Arts, the Cambridge Department of Public Works, and the city’s Community Development Department. The nine-member Cambridge Public Art Commission, together with city staff and the project landscape architect, Klopfer Martin Design Group, selected Reigelman for the project in 2018 from Cambridge Arts’ artist registry, which welcomes any artist interested in doing public art. As Reigelman developed his proposal it was featured at a community meeting and included in overall construction updates. 

Reigelman’s deer design was assembled by Demiurge in Denver from laser-cut sheets of steel, welded together, and weathered to a rusty brown. After being trucked to Cambridge, the sculpture serves as a landmark in the reconstructed and improved square. The deer stands as if it has paused to browse a clearing between the plaza’s new red maple, tupelo and sweetgum trees. The geometric steel sheets—which mirror “the exact angle of the historic intersection,” Reigelman says—seem to shimmer and disappear when seen from certain angles. 

Readers can discover more than 280 works of contemporary public art in every neighborhood in the City of Cambridge via our online Public Art Map: cambridgema.gov/publicartmap.

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