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Posts Tagged ‘art installation’


I had an awfully nice lunch yesterday, and I’d like to tell you about it. It involved two nonprofits — the mostly Caucasian conservation group Trustees of Reservations and the mostly African American community-outreach enterprise called Haley House.

The trustees had a really great idea recently to do meaningful art installations on a couple of their properties and chose one next to the Old Manse in Concord. The Old Manse is most often associated with 19th Century novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, but the grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson was also a resident and saw the historic events unfold at the North Bridge on April 19, 1775.

Artist Sam Durant wanted to draw attention to the presence of slaves in the early days of Concord and launch a discussion, so he constructed a kind of big-tent meeting house, with a floor made of the kinds of materials that might have been in slave buildings.

The Trustees conferred with him on a series of “lyceums” that might bring races together at the site. They decided that at the first one, they would encourage races to break bread together and talk about food traditions.

From Haley House in Roxbury, they brought in a chef, a beautiful meal, and singer/educator/retired-nurse Fulani Haynes.

I ate a vegan burger, sweet-potato mash, very spicey collard greens and wonderful corn muffins. Also available were salad and chicken.

Haynes sang a bit and talked about the origins of Haley House, how it helps low-income people and ex-offenders and local children, teaching cooking and nutrition and gardening, among other things. She invited attendees to tell food stories from their early years, and several brave spirits stood up.

That participatory aspect of the activities helped to reduce the impression that African Americans were making entertainments for a mostly white audience (art, food, music entertainments).

I loved the whole thing and learned a lot. (For example, Grandpa Emerson had slaves living upstairs, and “the embattled farmers” who “fired the shot heard ’round the world” were able to go marching off because slaves were working the farms. I really didn’t know.)

African American artifacts are on display next door at the Old Manse. The art installation will be up until the end of October 2016.

More here.

Photos: Artist Sam Durant offers the crowd a new lens on history. The chef from Haley House keeps an eye on the African American cuisine. Fulani Haynes demonstrates how a food can become an instrument.

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Someone tweeted this today, and I thought you would like it.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has created a nighttime art installation made of bicycles all lit up.

On October 5, says Alice at the website My Modern Met, “Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei presented a new version of his incredible Forever Bicycles installation. As the centerpiece of this year’s Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, the all-night contemporary art event that takes over city streets, 3,144 bicycles, the most Weiwei has used of this work to date, were stacked 100 feet in length and 30 feet in height and depth in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square. This was the first time the installation has been displayed in an open air, public space. Since this was a night-time festival, it was spectacularly lit up with pink and blue lights.”

Check My Modern Met for a stunning array of photos, here.

Photo: http://www.mymodernmet.com

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Check out Big, Red & Shiny, “a non-profit arts organization and online art journal [set up to] commission and publish articles, essays and reviews that explore the theory, history and reception of art in its current conditions.”

A tweet sent me to BR&S, where I learned about a special art installation that was hung in the MassArt courtyard on Tuesday.

Stephanie Cardon of BR&S writes, “This is the story of how one student’s year long effort has brought solace and joy to a community when it is most needed. In spite of the crystalline air and brilliant sunshine, Tuesday morning was dark for Bostonians near and far. … Yet, serendipitously, it was on this day that Leah Medin poured a sheet of gold, soft as a caress and reaffirming as a cheer, onto many wounded hearts.

“Her gesture was simple, but took months of planning and painstaking work. While carefully conceived, her sculpture unintentionally came to represent the soaring expression of spirit many of us so desperately needed to find that very day.

“I met with Medin to talk about the timely unfurling of her piece, The Gold Divide, in MassArt‘s central courtyard. For those who witnessed it, the hushed voices spoke of awe and wonder and hope. I was curious to hear how the sculpture had come about, and how its transformation into a symbol affected her.

” ‘What happened Tuesday was everything I wasn’t expecting,’ she said about the overwhelming public response. After all, Medin had been planning this piece for over a year. It all started during her junior year abroad in Amsterdam, where she would ride her bike all around the city. As she biked, she took in the sun and the air.

“The fabric — 440 yards of gold crystal nylon organza stitched in 57 foot long panels — was inspired by these outings, by the sense of freedom and exhilaration they contained, by the light.  …

“On the day of the Boston Marathon, Leah Medin was still hard at work in an empty school, putting the finishing touches on the cloth, reinforcing its seams. When she heard what had happened off campus, while she was quietly and solitarily working to meet her deadline, she had a moment of doubt. ‘I called my mom. I wasn’t sure I should stick with it. She told me that now more than ever it was important to bring something beautiful to people.’

” ‘I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. Then, all of a sudden, there were all these eyes on it. On my baby! It was touching the surface and reaching inside the buildings, caressing the people, running along the ground.’ …

” ‘A lot of people have come up to me and said thank you. I don’t even know many of them. We give each other hugs.’ ” More.

See more of Leah’s work at leahmedin.com

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When I saw the headline at Wired, it didn’t really compute.

“Artists Create Portraits on Live Grass.” What? I don’t get it. Did the artists set up easels and paint with oils? Did they paint directly on the grass?

Writer-photographer Jakob Schiller explains.

“It all started, as these things sometimes do, by accident. In 1990, before they worked in photography, [Heather] Ackroyd and [Dan] Harvey created an art installation that covered an entire room with grass. As part of the art piece they had left a ladder leaning against a wall and when they went to remove it they saw that the ubiquitous and fast-growing plant had been imprinted with the shadow. The grass had stayed yellow where the ladder had prevented it from receiving any light.

“ ‘We didn’t know straight away what we were looking at, but we knew that we had observed something important,’ Ackroyd says.

“They began playing with the idea of manipulating the light that hits grass and by the next year were projecting light through an old 35mm Kodak projector onto a swath of grass on the wall.”

What to think as the grass withers and dies? It’s kind of a Dorian Gray scenario.

Read more about the project at Wired‘s Raw File, here.

Photograph: Ackroyd & Harvey.
Myles, Basia, Nath and Alesha, The Big Chill Festival, Eastnor Castle, between the Cotswolds and the Welsh Marches. 2007

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More curiosities seen on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston: Waves. The first wave pictured below has a sign saying, “From the Greenway.” The second says, “From the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.”

This website helps to explain that an urban collaboration led by artists Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman is behind this project, “The Wave: An Interactive Public Art Installation Fostering Global H20 Awareness.” I love it, but it didn’t raise my water awareness immediately because I had trouble figuring out what it was. Thank goodness for Google.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote to the Greenway people (and to the city of Boston) about bikers who were using the Greenway paths despite signs saying not to use “bicycles, skateboards, personal transportation, i.e. Segway.” I like that people bike instead of use cars, but not on footpaths. The signs cause walkers to lower their guard. I’ve seen near misses.

The city wrote me: “Thank you so much for your email. It is illegal to ride on the Greenway. We at the City of Boston are aware of this issue. We will be installing a bike lane on the road for the cyclists this season. Research shows that that bike lanes dramatically reduce sidewalk riding.”

The Greenway people wrote: ” For the safety and enjoyment of all Greenway visitors, biking is not permitted anywhere in the parks. When our horticultural and maintenance staffs witness a cyclist, they will ask them to dismount; City of Boston Police Department handles enforcement.  … The City of Boston installed five new Hubway stations along the Greenway.  This fall, the City will be installing painted bike lanes onto the street which will help alleviate the problem in the parks.”

(At the moment the Boston police are more preoccupied with Occupy Boston. They arrested 141 Occupiers early Tuesday because they had spread into the Greenway from Dewey Square. Funny how a few days can change one’s perspective. Today the concerns of the Occupiers and the concerns of the police both seem more serious than bikes on footpaths.)



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