The Making of Trumpet Flower
Trumpet Flower was a labor of love, and at times it felt Sisyphean. In this case, the proverbial boulder was a horn-shaped monstrosity crafted from wood and steel, and the corresponding mountain was a six-story building which would support this towering artwork as it twisted up from the downtown Houston main street. Not only a feat of engineering and a marvel of craftsmanship, Trumpet Flower was also a great opportunity for community engagement. Taking Renner’s popular “painting party” activity to the next level, Flying Carpet invited the public to come make their mark on the sculpture, and Houstonians turned out en masse.
Amiskwaciw Wâskâyhkan Ihtâwin :: Community Engagement: Genius Loci of Place
For an artist, the initial concept for a public art project can be an exciting experience followed by anxious moments of uncertainty. Thinking of a concept that speaks to the public, while reflecting the values of your own artistic expression, is a challenging task. Questions preoccupied me as I conceptualized and created Amiskwaciw Wâskâyhkan Ihtâwin, a three-dimensional gateway/mural located in downtown Edmonton, Alberta. My awareness of Edmonton’s historic role as a gathering place for Indigenous peoples provided an essential clue to uncovering the essence of this special park.
Prototyping: Again, with feeling!
An iterative process is often useful, especially in the context of interactive public art: the collective public has a genius ability to subvert or repurpose objects and installations from their intended purpose. It can therefore be very helpful to periodically get something into the hands of someone who hasn’t been immersed in the project since its conception to see what they will do with it. Workshops with the communities that will ultimately be served by a project can serve as valuable de facto prototyping sessions as well.
Maine Arts Leadership Initiative: Quality Arts Education for All Learners by Focusing on Educators
I am exhausted after last week and thrilled about the accomplishments that happened at the seventh Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Summer Institute. Almost 70 teaching artists and pre-K through grade 12 visual and performing arts teachers spent three intense days in a collaborative learning environment. I am proud of these educators who challenged themselves on the topics of teaching, learning, and assessment. I am again reminded of the value of bringing arts educators together to form a community and delivering meaningful professional development!
Part to Part: Building “Under Magnitude”
Under Magnitude is a two-story tall permanent structure suspended in the atrium of Orlando's Orange County Convention Center that carves a three-dimensional impact into an otherwise vast space. The story behind the design and construction of the project is that it further evolves my invention of “Structural Stripes”: the fundamental premise of the studio to unite surface, skin, and space into a holistic and never-before-seen system.
Facing History Mural
At the beginning of this project, I thought about how murals serve as tools to strengthen narratives about place. This “Upstanders Mural” is no exception. In addition to strengthening the narrative of Memphis as a place of Civil Rights struggle and heroism, this mural should shift the narrative. It should widen the scope of the history of Memphis’ civic engagement from one predominantly focused on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to one that includes a wider range of Memphis activists and “upstanders.”
The Story of Firmament
Yes, Firmament is an experience. It’s not something you come up to look at and say, “oh, how clever” (as the case with many LED pieces). It’s a place where you go, and sometimes stay. It’s an environment that draws you in and gives you a comfy spot to be. This was my biggest lesson from creating Firmament—that being clever and pretty is great, but it doesn’t work nearly as well as a place and space for people to really enjoy the moment.
“Experiments in Public Art”—A Citywide Laboratory Expanding the Potential of Public Art
Debuting in 2016, the series of temporary artworks commissioned through Boulder, Colorado’s “Experiments in Public Art” program disrupt the traditional commissioning process. Each project’s temporality encourages work responding to “now”: What’s urgent? What is an immediate community conversation? How can public art be an agent to facilitate these conversations? What experimental practices can advance the artists’ body of work, the use of a public site, or the community interaction with art?
Reflection, Representation, and “14 Movements”
Artist Mat Tomezsko’s 2016 project with Mural Arts Philadelphia, 14 Movements: A Symphony in Color and Words, started out as a beautification request from the 2016 Democratic National Convention Host Committee, but it became so much more. Tomezsko created a wash of color along the median of Broad Street, stretching out languidly over 14 city blocks, a full mile-long mural marking a major transit corridor. 14 Movements created opportunities for reflection on the diversity of experience in Philadelphia, the very real, rich, inner lives that unfold every day in simple journeys down the street.
CLOUD HOUSE, Springfield, Missouri
This was the first ever permanent interactive public sculpture created in the City of Springfield (population 167,319), and with this size budget. Not only did the work provoke conversations around “exploring the local, questions of ecology and dissecting the systems that make up our everyday experiences,” Cloud House has also provoked conversations about the power of art.
The Making of Ethereal Bodies 8
Ethereal Bodies 8 is the most recent evolution in a series of sculptures I began in 2008 with Sentient Beings, a civic art installation located in North Hollywood, CA. The final work is a group of eight sculptures that together function as one group, smaller groups, and also as single parts. Through the design process, each individual sculpture really took on its own unique characteristics and quirkiness. The human form is something I explore more fluidly in my studio art practice and it was enjoyable to see how this interest unfolded in an abstract form at a larger than life scale.