The Awakening is an aluminum statue depicting a giant man desperately struggling to emerge from the earth. Made up of five parts, the giant’s outstretched right arm towers 17 feet above the ground and his bent left leg and knee rise above the earth, while is left hand and right foot just break the surface. His bearded face shows a look of abject terror with his mouth opening to unleash a primal scream.
This striking work of art, created by John Seward Johnson II, was originally installed at Hains Point in Washington, D.C. in 1980, and was a jarring sight from above for visitors flying into National Airport from the south.
The statue remained in place on the desolate tip of Hains Point in East Potomac Park for 27 years before being purchased by the developer of the waterfront National Harbor project, and moved to its new home in Oxon Hill, Maryland, a short hop south down the Potomac River.
The sculptor, J. Seward Johnson, is an American artist best known for his trompe l’oeil painted bronze statues. He is a grandson of Robert Wood Johnson (the co-founder of Johnson & Johnson), and Colonel Thomas Melville Dill, a prominent Bermudian lawyer and soldier. Many of Seward’s words are unassuming slices of life that might go unnoticed by passers-by, but this epic work is literally larger than life.
In 2009, a copy of the statue (The Awakening II) was installed near Chesterfield Central Park in Chesterfield, Missouri in 2009.