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My solo exhibition Once Familiar recently took place at the University of Rio Grande’s Esther Allen Greer Museum. This was a great opportunity to show a majority of the artworks from the Once Familiar series, and the museum’s cozy familiarity definitely enhanced the surreal qualities of these pieces. In addition, having this exhibit deadline motivated me to finish up a large group of Memory Vessel sculptures, which enhanced the conversation among everything on display.

 

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I had a great time in Miami last week checking out the city’s annual art fairs, marking my first visit to this city and my first time taking in an international art fair. The sheer number of art venues was mind boggling, and the range of work on display showcased the remarkable character of contemporary art. This was a truly amazing experience, and I definitely feel inspired in my own studio practice after gathering so much visual inspiration. Here’s a few highlights from this trip:

Scope International Contemporary Art Show

UNTITLED, Miami Beach

Art Basel Miami Beach

Spectrum Miami & Red Dot Miami 

Art Miami

Rubelll Family Collection

PULSE Contemporary Art Fair

Art Basel Miami Beach-Public Art Section

INK Miami Art Fair 

Aqua Art Miami 

Miami Project

In 1956, sculptor Milton Horn created carved stone pylons for the West Virginia University School of Medicine Morgantown Campus. These four towering columns contain eight carved relief scenes celebrating the history of medicine. As a tribute to his late wife Estelle, Horn donated his original plaster studies of these pylons to the West Virginia University School of Medicine Charleston Campus in 1982. In a collaborative effort between West Virginia University Health Sciences and the West Virginia University College of Creative Arts, I was commissioned to reproduce these panels for display at the West Virginia University School of Medicine Eastern Campus in Martinsburg, symbolically linking our university’s three medical school campuses. I delivered and installed the first panel in August, and the second panel was delivered in mid-October. I am on track to finish and deliver three more panels this academic year, and I expect to fully complete this project by fall 2017.

The Eastern Pylons project is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever undertaken, and I’m really pleased with the results. This project has allowed me to combine my knowledge of casting and metal fabrication methods to create large scale finished artworks, while also affording me on-the-job training in the use of new art-making materials, such as Winterstone-casting mix and Smooth-On Equinox silicone rubber mold putty. Working at this scale is certainly not a one-person job, so I am forever grateful to my student workers Cornelius Hugo, Kevin Brennan, and Matt Jarrett, as their hard work and camaraderie has been instrumental in the success of this project.

 

 

 

Looking back on 2013, I think the most challenging yet enjoyable project I took part in was the Morgantown Tree by artist Carol Hummel.

The School of Art and Design at West Virginia University invited Hummel to be a visiting artist for the 2013-2014 academic year. In addition to having a gallery exhibition, she put forth a proposal to work with students and community members to cover a large tree on our Evansdale Campus with crocheted yarn. Hummel has an impressive record of creating similar crocheted installations in Cleveland Heights, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Drangedal, Norway and New Delhi, India, so I thought it would be quite a coup for her to create a project in Morgantown.

Once Hummel’s project was approved, a workforce had to be organized to make all the crocheted elements. I served as Hummel’s de facto project manager, helping her coordinate with the university and community groups involved in the installation. Because this was a once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity, we decided early on that our sculpture students would assist Hummel. Members of the Morgantown community, including campus knitting groups and residents at The Village at Heritage Point (a senior retirement community), also made invaluable contributions to this project. There was palpable synergy among all participants, and due to excellent teamwork and a stretch of great weather, the installation was finished in only six days.

The Morgantown Tree was created in conjunction with Morgantown’s 2013 celebration of The Year of the Tree (YOTT). By choosing a prominent location for this installation, Hummel’s project enjoyed high visibility for both on-and off-campus populations. She used an open stitch for this installation, which allows the trees to breathe without damaging their growth, and her chosen synthetic yarn will hold its color well for the next several years.