From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Identity Tapestry, fourth iteration at OCCCA

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I was very pleased to see this iteration in action.  It’s so interesting to see how different people from different parts of the country in different venues approach the piece.Blank  If you have not seen Identity Tapestry in action, see the previous iteration here.  It is hard to picture without the video.

Other times I’ve really zoomed in when the piece is in action, overhearing comments and carefully watching statements shift.  This time I paid attention to the general motion of the piece and waited to hear from people directly when they realized I was the artist.  Because the space was more confined I didn’t want to add to the sensation by hovering over people’s shoulders watching them too closely.

The space definitely had an effect.  This was the first time that the first people to read the instructions didn’t immediately grab some yarn and start.  My guess is that the way it was placed in the room made it just a little more intimidating.  It was near the gallery’s desk with the front window to the right, the front desk to the left and people behind you if you faced the piece.  I imagine it gave a blind-alley feeling with people over one’s shoulder.

Still, I saw many of the people who walked away come back when other people started to participate.  At some point at the end of the first hour a critical mass gathered… and then it was mobbed as usual for the rest of the night.  There is anonymity in crowds.  I have started using certain statements to measure how comfortable people are as they do the piece.  I know what percentage of the population those statements are true for on average. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it makes them part of a person’s identity, so they could be skipped even if they apply, but I can still get an idea of whether people are comfortable enough to say the most difficult things… or not.   If I were given more control over the gallery space I would try to make it more comfortable.

Ideally comfortable or not, I was happy to see the way it effected people once again.  I even had a few come and hug me.  One woman in her fifties said that looking at her life, she felt she “had arrived”- a marked contrast to a woman of similar age in Brooklyn who told me she ‘realized that she didn’t really like herself’.  That the piece functions so well as a mirror is wonderful to me.  I did intend that self reflection, but I also intended people to be able to visually see there connections to other people.  I had people come away saying they felt less alone, knowing that other people shared certain things with them.  It is so gratifying to hear that sort of response.

Aside from the effect and interaction, I LOVED the basket.  It completes the cycle.  Cycles of life, death and rebirth are all through my work if you know to look for them.  It was nice to have that more explicit in this piece.  The stones were always memorials, and the tied ends of the threads always roots, but having the nest/womb/egg basket really sealed that.   It was perfect.

…and now when the show is over this piece can actually come off the wall and belong to someone.  It comes off just like a large panel painting.  It’s the first.  My hope for this piece is that each iteration gets preserved in a glass/plexiglass box like a reliquary or natural history museum display.  It is one moment in time, one group of people, one place.  No other will be the same.  Captured in that moment.

Written by Mary Corey March

October 7, 2011 at 1:00 am

Posted in shows

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