One of the first pieces that I installed out doors was a piece that I had recently made in Siler City (you can find a post on this blog about its creation here). I thought this piece might be a good fit for the Reclamation, and the Hermitage grounds and gardens.
a) because it is very much a formal piece, and formal design is a very strong element of the artistry at Hermitage (indoors and out), and also
b) because it is a piece that alter's your view of your everyday surroundings, and this was part of my goal in being there (and I think the currators', and Ed's, as well). The round windows afford a portal, or an altered view, and the treatment of the space inbetween these portals also invites you to explore, and cherish this negative space.
To let this piece shine, to something close to its full capability, it needed a 'room' with a 'view'. A spot that came immediately to mind was a certain point out at the edge of the Hermitage's grounds, where the land meets (and contemplates) the expanse of the sound (the Lafeyette River). Here sits a bench from which one can sit, and look out over the water, and also pair of contemplative Great Herons in bronze.
Garden Manager Jolima showed me two handsome cedar trees to tether it to, and made the good suggestion of some natural fibers to lash it on with.
Gardener Karen generously provided some bamboo for me to use as a cross brace above.
However, in the end, I decided to use ropes to extend upwards, following the trajectory of the diagonal struts of bamboo, which comprise the piece's frame. I do feel that this approach harmonized better with the diagonal lines, than the horizontal brace, which I think would have disrputed this some (though, though, of course, those vertical trees have their own presense in the piece. (The bamboo that Karen so sweetly brought me played very important roles in several other pieces, most notably "Kong Tower", and "Orb Weaver"'s web.
Fine tuning this thing was somewhat of a vexing, but rewarding process. Like many of the pieces I built for Reclamation, I found that this piece had its own interesting dynamics of tension, sort of running through out the entire form in sort of the unexpected manor of a pinball machine.
Of course, at the crux of the pieces eccentric behaviour, was the fact that I was attempting to position the piece's many elements in a flat vertical plane (a somewhat unnatural proposition). As gravity pulled downwards on each of the rims, within the bamboo frame, against the stretchy rubber inner tube tethers, that pulled them towards eachother, and the frame, it sort of writhed and buckled, as though possessed by unseen forces.
Finally, fortunately, its weight settled its 'toe' on the ground, and with this single point, it took on some semblance of equalibrium, finally allowing it to rest.....sigh.
What a parable for groundedness...
Once this piece found its own way in this new environment, it got right to work, doing its job, of fracturing the landscape, affording a mosaic of various, changing, tesselated windows, through which the viewer could 'review' and interact with the environment around it.
Of course, it is also nice to watch the bay through.
Here is some of my Mother's artistry.
NAMING THE THING
A couple of names came up for this piece, one in my discussions of medieval art with Hermitage Director and Art Historian Melanie Mathews. Mrs. Mathews had pointed out that piece bore a resemblance to a form which has been used throughout the Middle Ages in all manner of art and architecture, and which is also found incorporated into the artistry at Hermtage. That form is the "Quatrafoil", which I guess you could say, in some ways resembles a four leaf clover.
What drew her to draw that comparison is the use of negative space, evident both this piece, and medieval uses of the form. I thought that this was a fascinating connection to make, especially as the use of negative space is at the very core of this piece, in fact it is its 'main feature', framed as it is by the inverted bicycle tire surrounding the pieces central window.
And so, as in some ways the piece is a 'curtain', a term which I believe she had also used to describe it, I thought that a contraction of these two words would be appropriate. I also like that the name reflects a little bit of the Islamic/Moorish influence, which I suspect has its place in the quatrefoil's history.
The other name I came up with was Unity Screen. Why? Well...
I would say that a screen is an interesting way to approach this form.
But more importantly, there is an interesting thing happening with this piece.
And that is that the inverted bicycle tire creating a window frame, at the piece's center, is held in place by the four rims and inner tubes. And thus, the tire, which would normally find itself at home, wrapped tightly around a single rim and tube, now belongs to each of these rims.
Together, they act to hold this frame in place, and its form reflects each of the rims curved shape (or its values), and also the groups 'values', as a whole. It also honors, and sanctifies the space between these four different rims.
Installed this piece on September 11, on the 10th Anniversary of the bombings on the World Trade Center. I don't know if it would be appropiate to say that this piece was a tribute of sorts, but these were thoughts running through my head as I installed and interacted with this piece that day.