Monday, May 11, 2009

The Second Assembly: What it's about.

The Second Assembly was a commission opportunity for the juniors and seniors enrolled in the sculpture class here at Herron School of Art and Design. We were all encouraged to produce proposals for a brand new rotating sculpture spot in front of Community North Hospital here in Indianapolis. When I first arrived at the hospital I thought it was an airport. The whole feel of the place was that it wasn't a hospital, it didn't even have that hospital smell.

So for a contemporary hospital, I was proposing a contemporary sculpture that dealt with growth. At the time I was working with these forms that reminded me of these uprooted palm trees that I had seen on TV after the destruction left by Hurricane Katrina, but it wasn't the destruction I was most amazed by, it was the way people were able to rebuild after such a tragedy. It really got me thinking about no matter what happens at a hospital, good or bad, we have second outlook on life. Another metaphor I worked with for this project was fallen tree. I grew up on an 80 acre farm so fallen trees were common thing for me, but whenever one tree fell there was new life that came out of it. It provided shelter for small animals, food for bugs, or warmth from firewood. Even thought the tree was gone, it transformed into something greater than what it had been.

Visually, I wanted something that had the feeling of some sort of microscopic battle where one shape was falling and another was rising. I also wanted something that visually looked like it was moving and changing when you looked at it. The space the sculpture is in is quite deceiving. It's a 40'x12'x6' shadowbox essentially, but there are windows that allow the viewer to see the sculpture from behind, so different views became critical when laying out all the different parts of the sculpture. The solution I came up with allows all the negative space of one view of the sculpture be filled up by positive shapes of another view creating endless possibilities when walking around the sculpture.

Another component of the sculpture is the finishes on the two elements. For the square tube "fallen tree" elements, I went with a glossy black finish and for the organic pipe pieces I used a galvanized steel finish. One of my favorite painters Kazimir Malevich used black squares in white circles and described the black square as man's control on nature and the white circles as nature's ever growing control on man. I was intrigued by this comparison and translated that into this piece. Visually though, white wouldn't have shown up against the brick background so I went with the galvanized finish on the pipes to create a shiny contrast to the black growths. In the spring and summer, the pipes will stand out and demand more of your attention while in the colder part of the year where the sunlight isn't as intense, the pipes take a backseat while the black fallen tree growths look like they're floating on air.

To sum up what one of the patients at the Hospital said to me,
"That's the coolest looking thing I've ever seen"

That's all I needed to hear.

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