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 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!
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 thousands of sticks to stain in preparation for my site-specific installation at the Bruce Museum, I needed some additional help in my studio. With thanks to my friend Nicolas Touron, I was introduced to Sandra Lee. Sandra is an SVA student who is majoring in Graphic Design. She has also studied architecture at École Nationale Supérieur d’Architecture de Paris-Belleville. She has spent many long days assisting me in the studio, staining countless sticks of bass wood. Many thanks for all of your help, Sandra!
I am delighted to be a part of the upcoming exhibition Tales of Two Cities: New York & Beijing opening at the Bruce Museum on May 3rd. For this show, I will be creating a site-specific installation of a different sort. Here is a description of the exhibition:
This exhibition focuses on two of the world’s leading centers of art — New York and Beijing — and offers a visual pairing of five New York-based artists with five Beijing-based artists. The ten artists have been engaged in five different global, cross-cultural, artistic dialogues over the course of two years via email, Skype, in person, sometimes with translators, about issues ranging from political and social upheaval, the concept of global culture, and questions about materials and techniques. Some of the artists are creating new works for the exhibition including two site-specific works being created at the Museum, others are represented by existing or historic works.
The concept for this show grew out of an earlier collaboration curated by Pan Qing at Columbia University’s Studio X in Beijing in 2010 between New York-based artist Michelle Fornabai and Beijing-based artist Qin Feng, both of whom are featured in the present show.
“Watching Michelle Fornabai and Qin Feng communicate silently through the brush helped to open my mind to the myriad possibilities of visual dialogues between artists from very different artistic backgrounds,” Qing explains. “After discussing this idea with the other curators and advisors of this exhibition — Michelle Y. Loh, John Rajchman and Sarah McNaughton — a decision was made to expand on this theme by seeking out more opportunities to pair artists from disparate cultures.”
The curators matched the pairs based partly on the kind of work that they do and their artistic processes, but more importantly on the type of dialogue in which they suspected the artists might engage within the context of their respective urban environments. Many of the ten artists are themselves peripatetic, on the move between global art centers, not only New York and Beijing, but also in Latin America and Europe.
Paired artists include:
- Michelle Fornabai(NYC) and Qin Feng (Beijing)
- Joan Snyder (NYC) and Wei Jia (Beijing)
- Alois Kronschlaeger (NYC) and Lin Yan (Beijing)
- Jorge Tacla (NYC) and Li Taihuan (Beijing)
- Simon Lee (NYC) and Chen Shaoxiong (Beijing)
Selected artworks illustrate parallels between the pairs’ work and themes that arose during their conversations. Some of the artists are represented by existing or historic artworks, some have created new pieces, and some have collaborated to create site-specific work. The works range from Joan Snyder’s My Pain Is No More Than Being’s Pain, which dates from 1983 and is in the Bruce Museum’s collection, to pieces created specifically for this exhibition.
The exhibition is generously supported by The Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund and a Committee of Honor.