Another installation done! Gateway was commissioned for Southern Vermont College’s new Admissions building, housed in the mansion’s gatehouse. The idea was to create a site-specific work that related to Identity Tapestry (the college commissioned Identity Tapestry Iteration #8 for permanent display in their main building), tying together the upper and lower campuses and making prospective students immediately feel part of the community.
I used locally quarried paving stones from the college to create a cairn with a gateway element as the focus of the piece. Cairns are piled of stones used as path-markers on trials. Making one which is also a gateway from the college’s foundation materials has obvious symbolism.
For the action it is similar to Identity Tapestry in that participants select a color of yarn and wrap it around statements. In this case though, statements are less about identity as a whole and are instead in two categories. They start on the left wall, pass their yarn through the stone gateway and then continue on the right wall.
On the left side are statements centered around where a prospective student might be coming from, physically, intellectually and emotionally as they enter college. “I come from a small town”, “I am the first person in my family to go to college”, “I always assumed I wold go to college”, “my family believes in my dreams”, and unlike Identity Tapestry, statements do contradict each other, such as “I never thought I would go to college”. I looked through incoming student profiles and spoke with the admissions team to get a sense of the commonalities in incoming students. Statements like “I love to be in nature” came out of that, as I’m sure the natural beauty around the college attracts many of the students.
On the right side are statements about student’s hopes and dreams for the future, also drawn from student profiles. I went for the drives and commonalities behind various fields and professions rather than simply listing them, which would always leave someone out. For example “I want to speak for people with no voices” could apply to a defense attorney, or an animal rights activist, a civil rights leader, a politician, a social worker or any number of other professions.
When the participant has marked the left wall, passed through the gateway and then marked the right wall, they are left with a fair amount of yarn still on the ball. Unlike Identity Tapestry I made all of them an equal and generous length, and there are no stones in the middle. They then toss the ball over the edge of the right-hand wall, which is shaped after the silhouette of Southern Vermont Mountains. This will make each person’s yarn disappear upwards towards the sky without being broken by a harsh angular line.
Process on site-
As usual the many (over a hundred) balls of yarn were all uniquely hand-dyed for the piece. The new challenge with this piece was the deceptively simple-seeming arrangement of balls (it took me two full days to do). It was an exercise in placing, untangling, and placing again. Trying to color balance with every color being different, with arrangements that might tangle if you moved something to adjust for color harmony. It would have undoubtedly been easier to simply make a spectrum of color rather than trying to balance the colors while making them look random, but I wanted it to resemble a crowd of different types of people rather than an organized system. I did do the beginning of each strand as a spectrum though. Make of that what you will.
The statements plaques in this piece went perfectly- laser-etched statements filled with black acrylic, fused to the plaque bases. The oval shape had the advantage of not only suggesting thought bubbles but also not catching the yarn the way the tag/label-style statements in Identity Tapestry do. The piece is also designed to be re-usable, so that each year incoming and prospective students can participate.
Overall I’m pleased with the piece and so glad it will be part of Southern Vermont College’s new building.
So in three days I’ll be installing a new site-specific piece at Southern Vermont College. What you are seeing here is my studio mockup of the project done in paper. I find that for installation work I absolutely need to work with the scale of things in relation to my body. What works conceptually or in sketches often has a very different impact when you put a person next to it.
In this case I’ve substituted the paving stones I’ll be using for paper ones of the same size which I made to try them out. The actual stones were quarried from the hills near the college, hand-cut and used in paving the college grounds. Mark Klauder, the college’s fantastic groundskeeper (who is also an excellent carpenter who has created the panels for this piece) showed me these on a forest path and told me about their history.
My thought was to use them to build a cairn (piles of stones used to guide travelers on their path) which would mark the center of the piece.
The piece will be similar to Identity Tapestry in having hand-dyed yarn on the left, each one to represent a person’s journey. Each person will circle the statements that are part of their personal journey. In this case, from where they are already coming from (pre-college) on the left wall, and then passing through a gate within the cairn to go to the right wall, which has statements about dreams and goals for the future. At the end, rather than setting down a stone on the ground they will toss the (much lighter and stone-free) ball up over the side of the piece, creating a line disappearing towards the sky.
The outline of the panel on the right is taken from the silhouette of the mountains near the college.
For the curious, this mockup was made in my new studio space. I’m so glad I found the right one just when I needed it! Tomorrow I roll up my wall-maps and Tuesday morning I fly out with a bag full of those, yarn, parts and tools to make this installation a reality. The piece will be called “Gateway” and be located at SVC’s new admissions building in the mansion’s old gatehouse.
The space and the work were so wonderful together. I feel so fortunate to have been able to create this new installation for this space. “I am. And you?” was also a perfect theme for my work generally, so it was a good fit all around. They have asked if I would keep up the new work “Transparency” for the next show as well (centered around building community and communication), so there will be more chances for the general public (aside from hundreds of theater-goes) to see it.
I always love seeing people interact with my work and discovering what happens when the work comes together with a space and a unique group of people.
Did I mention the space is absolutely amazing? When I saw that piece of set (a huge factory wall which can be back-lit through the windows), the height of the ceilings, the space generally I knew I had to do a piece in that space.
So over the last couple days we put up Primary Text and my new work Transparency, created especially for the space and the “I am. And you?” show at Zspace. Primary Text is hung in this image (left), but not yet anchored. I’m excited to see that one in action Participation-wise.
Yesterday I finished creating a warp for Transparency (the up and down part of a weaving on the loom) over 15 feet long. It’s right in front of the windows, and the material you will be weaving into it is the colored gels theaters use over lights. You can just see the 3 cables I used to hang it.
Each person will answer a question and write it on the gels and weave it into the warp. They can also respond to someone else’s answer as if that person asked “and you?”. The physical result should be a kid of stained-glass window lit from behind.
I’ve been thinking a lot about ideas and experiences of introversion and extroversion, backstage/onstage/audience, the parts of ourselves we show differently in different company. Filtered selves, not fake, but you don’t let the same parts of yourself through to your coworkers as you do to your lover or your child or vice versa. One odd discovery is how many theatre performers are actually introverts offstage. Given the environment of the theatre and the way lights and windows an that set-piece were working I had to explore transparency and filters while using the visual materials of the theatre-space (sand-bags, lighting gels, a “set” of flat black). I’m excited to see how it all comes out when it’s been interacted with!
Please join us Monday night from 6-10 at ZSpace in San Francisco.
I will be including a new Participatory Installation exploring ideas of social transparency, introversion/extroversion, off-stage/onstage/backstage, being observed and observing. Please join us at zspace!
The envelope piece is…
Write Me for Art/Do you read me? (Disintermediation)
Mixed Media Participatory Installation: hand embroidery on cloth.
To create this piece I gave people (mostly strangers) around the country self-addressed stamped envelopes with personal questions inside and a description of the project, usually after a good conversation.
They were invited to write a short response in their own handwriting and send it back to me to become part of the project (also available to those following the artist online). The artist then hand embroidered every reply received by Jan 1, 2014, matching the color and handwriting as faithfully as possible.
The tablet piece on the table is…
Write Me for Art/ Do you read me? (digital mediation)
Mixed Media Participatory Installation: machine embroidery, print on fabric, acrylic, weights.
This piece includes text from the companion piece Write Me for Art/Do you read me? (Disintermediation), but also text taken by the artist from online social media.
*For those of you who are unable to handle these, if you did you would notice that the ones that are machine-embroidered were heavy (about the weight of a phone or tablet, a little heavier). Those objects corresponded to the text from the first piece (Disintermediation). The others were printed rather than embroidered, were light and the text was taken from online social media.
The piece in the background is Iteration #9 of Identity Tapestry.
The Gala fundraiser opening for SFAI’s graduate thesis show.
This photo is right when things were closing down. I liked the stillness and being able to clearly see all three pieces without the crowd. It was a really great night. I love seeing people interact with the work!
My work for this show included Identity Tapestry (iteration#9), Write Me for Art/Do you read me? (Disintermediation), and Write Me for Art/ Do you read me? (digital mediation)
I poked my head out a little, but I haven’t seen the whole show yet. I’m looking forward to a quiet viewing tomorrow.