May 17, 2023

Opening for Sculpture at St. Michaels Preserve

“THE AWAKENING”: An opening ceremony for the late J. Seward Johnson’s monumental sculpture will be held on Sunday, May 21 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at D&R Greenway’s St. Michaels Farm Preserve in Hopewell Township.

The Hopewell Valley Arts Council and The Johnson Atelier are hosting a community-wide sculptural celebration this year, “Seward Johnson | Celebrating the Everyday.” This year-long public art project highlights the life and work of J. Seward Johnson II (1930-2020), a renowned sculptor known for his lifelike sculptures of everyday people. One of the major highlights of this project is Johnson’s monumental sculpture, The Awakening, at D&R Greenway’s St. Michaels Farm Preserve in Hopewell Township.

The Awakening, measuring 70 feet wide, is of a giant embedded in the earth, seemingly struggling to free himself from the ground. The installation has been funded by a grant to the Johnson Atelier from the Atlantic Foundation, a Johnson family foundation.

“Through this public art project, we are honoring the legacy of Seward,” said Carol Lipson, executive director of the Hopewell Valley Arts Council. “The Awakening is a testament to his creative thinking. We hope that the sculpture, surrounded by nature, will serve as a place for both personal reflection and community activity.”

An opening ceremony for The Awakening will be held on Sunday, May 21 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at D&R Greenway’s St. Michaels Farm Preserve. Members of the community are invited to attend this free art-filled celebration that will include dance, poetry, and music — all things that Johnson loved.

“This project celebrates Seward’s spirit,” said Lynn DeClemente Losavio, program officer at the Johnson Atelier. “He loved Hopewell Valley — the beautiful expanse of field and forest of St. Michaels Farm Preserve, a sense of well-being and return to nature. He would have loved people wandering, wondering, and finding their own story as they enjoy the surrounding trails and community. The giant really amplifies this feeling.”

D&R Greenway’s St. Michaels Farm Preserve was established in 2010 when the nonprofit land trust purchased the property from the Diocese of Trenton. Six miles of farm roads and wooded trails wind through 416 acres of preserved land, providing a place where community residents enjoy daily walks and visitors experience open space. The land where the sculpture is located was the site of Hopewell Borough’s 125th anniversary celebration and music festival in 2016.

“This temporary installation, The Awakening, invites people to pause and think about their role in protecting the Earth,” said Linda Mead, D&R Greenway’s president and CEO.

Engaging people through art about the environment has been a feature of D&R Greenway’s work for many years. The land trust hosts regular gallery exhibits at their Johnson Education Center headquarters in Princeton.

“We were approached by the Johnson Atelier and the Hopewell Valley Arts Council and wanted to be part of this community-wide celebration,” Mead continued. “We hope that The Awakening will introduce people to our preserve, where they can walk our trails and learn about land preservation. We also hope it will inspire thought about how each of us individually makes choices that affect the Earth and its resources. For me, this sculpture represents the struggles of humanity as we try to protect the Earth during a time of climate change and its impacts on plants and wildlife. While the art installation is temporary, the lands we preserve and steward are forever.”

In addition to The Awakening, 14 of Johnson’s life-sized sculptures will be installed throughout Hopewell Valley for a special six-month exhibition, if fundraising permits. These sculptures will be placed in highly visible locations throughout Hopewell Township, Hopewell Borough, Pennington, and Titusville, including one at each school campus in Hopewell Valley Regional School District. The celebration will also include concerts, poetry readings, guest speaker talks, tours, art exhibitions and workshops featuring local artists. All funding for these sculptures will be crowd-sourced from community donations and local business sponsors.

“To complete this ambitious project, we need support from the community,” said Lipson. “We invite donations to this important initiative to help us bring Johnson’s vibrant and creative artwork to Hopewell Valley.”

For more information and to donate to the project, visit