Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York

Percent for Art

   Ursula Von Rydingsvard

katul katul, Plastic and Aluminum Suspended Sculpture, 2003


katul katul

Completion Date:



Polyester plastic and aluminum


40' x 40'


Queens Family Courthouse


151-120 Jamaica Avenue, Queens


Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, Gruzen-Samton

Sponsor Agency:

Dormitory Authority of the State of New York

Design Agency:

Office of Court Administration

Housed inside the Queens Family Courthouse, Ursula von Rydingsvard's katul katul hovers in the center of the building's 40-by-40 foot atrium ceiling. Suspended five floors above the building's lobby is a twenty-two foot dome, from which extend two tentacles. Composed of over 200 individual pieces, the dome and tentacles have an opaque finish that diffuse an airy feeling throughout the building. Made entirely of polyester plastic and aluminum, the massive sculpture adds light and whimsy to the building; the sculpture's tentacles for instance carry light from the building's ceiling to the ground floor. Named after a Polish children's game that mimics how dough is rhythmically kneaded, the title further complements the light-hearted, engaging nature the sculpture exudes. Purposefully abstracted, von Rydingsvard's amorphous sculpture encourages viewers to forge a personal relationship with the artwork. Greeting the public with warmth and an air of mystery, katul katul defies conventional categorization.

About the Artist...
Born in Germany to Polish parents, Ursula von Rydingsvard's artwork is often inspired by her eastern European roots. After spending five years in a German refugee camp for displaced Polish citizens, von Rydingsvard moved to Connecticut at the age of eight. After receiving degrees from Columbia University, and the University of Miami, Coral Gables, it became clear to Ursula that a career in art was her path of choice. An internationally renowned sculpture artist, von Rydingsvard has exhibited in venues including KolnSkulptur in Koln, Germany, Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, New York, and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, in Wakefield, England.

Artist Quote...
I wanted a spiritual presence and an elegant reconfirmation through light at this family courthouse where grisly things happen. The presence of the sculpture is experienced in large part by the way the sculpture contains, transmits, and negotiates the light around the five floors [of the court house.] The aim was to energize the air with shifting structures. -- von Rydingsvard