Attendees of the NeoCon® World's Trade Fair 2010 may have been surprised by the 10-ft. tall sculpture of an elephant greeting them at the main entrance. No, the Merchandise Mart didn’t add a Rainforest Café; the symbolic elephant is part of a project by sculptor Andries Botha to raise awareness for environmental issues.
Botha used recycled truck tires over a steel support structure to create the 1.3-ton animal replica. Called Nomkhubulwane (pronounced Nom-koo-bull-wah'-nee), the NeoCon® elephant is named for the Zulu Goddess known as Mother Earth. She was originally designed for the ninth World Wilderness Congress in Mexico in 2009. Her appearance at NeoCon was sponsored by manufacturing firm InterfaceFLOR.
Nomkhubulwane is the 17th in a series of life-size elephant statues crafted from recycled materials. Botha intends the sculptures as a powerful symbol for his recently launched Human Elephant Foundation, which aims to accelerate imagination on issues of ecology, conservation, and sustainability.
Additionally, InterfaceFlor added its own bit of “ele-fun” to NeoCon®, in partnership with the Human Elephant Foundation, with a wall plaque detailing the Nomkhubulwane project and an approximately 6-ft. long, write-on chalk board outside its 11th floor showroom that reads “Everybody who wants to get off oil, raise your trunk!” The board invites attendees to share their ideas of how to move off oil to a more sustainable world. (It was already covered with suggestions, protests against the current BP environmental tragedy, and design well-wishes for a “Happy NeoCon®.”)
It's odd but undeniable–elephants are somehow a little adorable (think Dumbo). Do you agree that an elephant is the best animal to spur environmental discussion? (After all, environmentalism is quite a large issue.) What do you think of this creative way to raise awareness?