I am absolutely thrilled to share the latest news about Tales of Two Cities: New York & Beijing at the Bruce Museum. Along with the other artists in the exhibition, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jane L. Levere of The New York Times to discuss my site-specific installation, Grid Structure #1. I invite you to read the piece here. Cheers!
I am so pleased to present these final images of Grid Structure #1. I would like to thank Marc Lins for these stunning photographs as well as everyone else who was there during the process of creating this work including Michelle Loh, Sarah McNaughton, Lin Yan and the participating artists of Tales of Two Cities: New York & Beijing; Susan Ball, Anne von Stuelpnagel, Jack Coyle and the Bruce Museum staff; Cristin Tierney and Maria Kucinski at the Tierney Gardarin Gallery; Adam Ellyson, Karen Biddulph, and Peter Linderoth for the Mead School workshop; Enrique Tellez Kuenzler for his support; Christian Anwander and Sandra Lee in the studio; and, of course, my wife, Florencia Minniti.
In total, there are 22 cubes that make up Grid Structure #1 currently on view in Tales of Two Cities: New York & Beijing at the Bruce Museum. That equals over 6,500 sticks made from bass wood and over 24,000 sides of each stick to stain. It was a daunting task but an exciting exercise to pull together the different color combinations and geometric and abstract forms. Each angle of the cube creates an entirely new visual experience. Here is a selection of photographs of the individual cubes by Paul Mutino.
In connection with my site-specific installation Grid Structure #1 at the Bruce Museum, I had the amazing opportunity to give a workshop at the Mead School in Stamford, Connecticut. I worked with students ranging from Pre-K through eighth grade, offering some insight into my work and presenting exercises relating to my latest work. Students were given a side of a cube to design and paint as they wished. Once all the cubes were finished, we stacked them into a site-specific sculpture akin to Grid Structure #1.
I would like to thank Adam Ellyson, Karen Biddulph, Peter Linderoth and Cristin Tierney for the chance to work with the students at the Mead School. It was a wonderful and inspiring experience – especially for my first time working with kids!
Although it was a relatively short installation, I was lucky to have my friends and colleagues stop by the Bruce Museum to check in on the process of creating Grid Structure #1. Architectural photographer, Marc Lins came to visit the location with fashion photographer, Christian Anwander. Marc needed to figure out how to photograph the piece, checking how the light situation changed throughout the day. Enrique Tellez, a very good friend and collector from Mexico City was in town and visited with my wife Florencia Minniti. My dealer, Cristin Tierney, also came by to check in on my progress. I was so thrilled to have these people stop by to see the installation process and to have the opportunity to see how the work changed.
The approach to my newest site-specific installation is very different from previous projects. For this piece, I have created many small cubes with the intention of stacking them within the atrium of the Bruce Museum. As I mentioned in my previous post, there are a number of tests that had to be run in order to create the desired effect with the cubes. In this moment, I am testing how the different cubes interact with each other when stacked.
As you may know, an important component of the creation of my site-specific work and of my studio practice is to build a scale model. A scale model helps to steer my artistic approach and informs the installation onsite. I have not yet done a site-specific installation without a scale model, until now. (See examples of my scale models here: 30º, Multicolored Grid, Basin and Range, Spire, Allotropism.)
For the Bruce Museum’s Tales of Two Cities: New York & Beijing, I have used a new approach in the studio – 3-dimensional rendering. With the help of my intern, Sandra Lee, she and I were able to create visuals based on the existing architecture of the museum and insert the various gridded structures in the atrium. The result provides a view similar to that of my scale models and offers the benefit of some agility for this new type of site-specific piece.
As with any of my works or installations, I generally run a series of tests before making any decisions and it was extremely crucial for me to test this installation for a number of reasons.
For one, I am working on a new scale, with new pieces to the puzzle and I need to make sure that the small cubes will make a big impact when stacked together.
The second reason is that I need to see how the cubes will interact with the mirrored plexiglass we have placed at the bottom of the piece. How will the effect be? How will the various cubes react?
And the third reason – and ultimately the most important to me in any site-specific installation – is the lighting. How do the cubes interact with the light coming in from the window? With the light coming from the lightbulbs? In contrast to the black wall? In reaction to the plexiglass?
Finally, how does it all interact with the existing architecture? I consider all these various components when I create and install a site-specific work so this step is very important and has a direct impact upon the direction of the piece.
With countless hours of preparation in my studio with the help of Sandra Lee, Christian Anwander, and Florencia Minniti, we were ready to bring the pre-assembled cubes to the Bruce Museum. Anne von Stuelpnagel prepared the atrium for my arrival by painting the walls black and collaborated with me on the lighting design while Jack Coyle oversaw the unloading of the truck filled with cubes.
In addition to the enormous help from Sandra Lee, I had the opportunity to put my good friend and fashion photographer, Christian Anwander, to work in the studio. With his hard work, we were able to prepare the cubes for the upcoming site-specific installation for the Bruce Museum’s Tales of Two Cities: New York & Beijing.