Art 500 Installations

Last Sunday, the Art 500 class unveiled their intriguing installations in the Moncrieff Cochran Sanctuary.

Every fall, Art 500 students create an installation art either individually or collaboratively as their first large-scale project to kick off the year.

Therese Zemlin, Instructor of Art 500 class said, “The topic of the installation project was installation.”

Zemlin said, “[Students] needed to somehow subvert a notion, changing the way you perceive something or the way you think about what you perceive.”

Apart from the loose guidelines, the project was freely open to students’ creativity.

Everything from towering cardboard structures to petite dollhouse compositions adorn the Sanctuary.

In addition to learning about installations, students were also challenged to think about how to work in the unusual environment – the Sanctuary.

“In some cases, the Sanctuary provided contrast for what [students] were doing, and in other cases, students were working in parallel with nature. … But in all cases, the students are responding to the place, as well,” said Zemlin

Creating art in a place like the Sanctuary was a novel experience that was also educational.

Raquel Gordon ’12 said, “I never thought that I’d be able to create something put in a natural setting because I’ve never done that before.”

Elaine Crivielli, Instructor in Art, said, “I think these students have real opportunity to think three dimensionally but also think about the site [in the Sanctuary] that they’ve chosen in relation to the materials and the concept, and about how the site may have contributed to the development of the concept.”

Students were also challenged to work on a scale larger than most art projects within a time limit.

“The best creativity really happens when there are limitations. … If you have a lot of limitations, you have to be really creative and really resourceful,” said Zemlin.

Natalia Slattery ’13 said, “It was really different from anything I’ve ever done before. I chose a pretty ambitious project to do and it could have easily gone down the drain, but it all came together.”

Christa Choy ’12

Choy’s project features light paper and delicate strings wrapped around the trunk of a single tree. Choy’s work creates the illusion that the installation is suspended in the mid-air.

While the thin papers surround the trunk of the tree horizontally, pieces of string hang vertically across the paper. The strings are gathered at the top on the hooks, suspending the installation above the ground.

Choy wanted to illustrate the concept of trees gaining a ring for every year that they age.

Choy said, “It’s a lantern, so the whole idea is that it’s lit up by the tree or by the youth of the tree as opposed
to an electronic source.”

She continued, “The lantern is supposed to capture on year of [the aging] and this tree is still on the thinner side than other trees, so it’s trying to capture the youth of the tree.”

Alexandra Donovan ’13
Krissy Pelley ’13

Combining their original ideas, Alexandra Donovan ’13 and Krissy Pelley ’13 collaborated to create an installation combining miniature items and towering trees.

Cardboard stairs snake up and around the trunks of two trees, while little dollhouse-sized furniture painted in bright colors adornd the spaces in between the two trunks.

Donovan had the idea of the stairs, while Pelley had the idea of “a fantasy world.”

Pelley said, “We just put [our ideas] together to make a mini fantasy.”

In addition to the warm-colored doors and windows, miniature ladders, wheelbarrows and tiny metal pails are delicately placed amidst the tree trunks, creating an artificial
world reminiscent a fairytale.

“We definitely imagined that someone little is living there, and it’s kind of a little village, so it’s left to the viewer,” said Donovan.

Sitting right off one of the main paths of the Sanctuary, the little scene is a pleasant and curious surprise to all who come upon it.

“Someone can be coming up and down on the path and suddenly just see it. It’s less of a thinking this is an artwork, and more of thinking ‘Wow,this is where little people live’,” said

Evan Eads ’12

Located off the paths of the sanctuary among the bushes and vegetation is Eads’s project, which displays a collection of photographs.

The photographs are largely of the sanctuary, each photo in monochromatic hues such as blue or orange.

Arranged in a skewed arrow shape, the photo collection sharply contrasts the organic feel of the trees around it.

Raquel Gordon ’12

Gordon’s installation, a floor-toceiling window similar to those on campus, stands supported by two strings framed by trees.

“I wanted to put in something that looked like a stained glass,” said Gordon.

Sprinkled on the glass are abstract and translucent painted images of trees and leaves that are drawn behind the glass.

“[Gordon] has a wonderful sense of impressionistic perspective going on in that piece,” said Zemlin.

Gordon said, “I wanted to recreate this space that we’re in – this kind of cathedral-like hall of trees and put it in a different dimension.”

Cameron Hastings ’12

The tops of cardboard boxes peep over bushes and upon going through the narrow trail, a colossal tower of cardboard boxes is revealed.

The 20-foot tall cardboard-box edifice created by Cameron Hastings ’12 ressembles a skyscraper found in big cities. It gets narrower towards its top.

“[Hastings] did something with materials that have a kind of mamade artificiality to them, and took those things and brought them out to nature,” said Zemlin.

“I like the contrast between the cardboard boxes and nature. … One girl in my class said it reminded her of a tree and made her think of how they made cardboard out of trees and remnants like that,” said Hastings.

Maddie Kim ’12
Kiki Somers ’12

In the collaborative work of Maddie Kim ’12 and Kiki Somers ’12, strings of fiery red yarn snake around the cluster of tree trunks, creating a maze off of one of the paths of the Sanctuary.

“It’s stunning to walk through the sanctuary and see these red lines, almost like laser beams, running through the woods,” said Zemlin.

“The purpose of our installation was to show how the brightly colored string against the natural background of the Sanctuary altered the viewer’s perception of depth and somewhat skewed their vision as they approached and interacted with the project,” said Kim in an email to The Phillipian.

“We chose that spot specifically because you could see the vibrant red string as you were approaching and it was interesting to see how it changed as you got closer and entered the installation,” she continued.

The inspiration for this installation came from Christo and Jeanne- Claude’s installation art “Running Fence.”

According to Kim, she and Somers originally planned to use fabric, but then decided that the strings looked much better than they had expected in their given space.

Natalia Slattery ’13

Nestled in the far corner of a clearing, strung between two trees, Slattery’s hammock sways gently and looks as if someone lives there.

“The idea behind it is an idealistic lifestyle in the trees. It’s like perfection,” said Slattery.

On top of the hand-woven white hammock sit objects such as battered bronze cup, a worn blue pillow, carelessly scattered playing cards, a casually opened copy of “Gulliver’s Travels,” a stained newspaper and a dying pink flower in an old bottle of vanilla extract.

Amidst the draping pieces of white cloths and laces around the hammock are objects with hints of blues, coppers and other earthly colors.

“I want people to long. Humans aren’t supposed to live in the trees but you know, you kind of look and you go, ‘Hey, I kind of want do that,’” said Slattery.

According to Slattery, the idea for her installation came largely from “Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse,” a Disney film.

“It’s my favorite thing in the world and was a definite factor in my idea,” she said.

Caroline von Klemperer ’12

The project by Caroline von Klemperer ’12 features masking tape stretched across trees that creates a geometric shape.

In adhering masking tape in strips around the trees, von Klemperer aimed to recreate the outline of Bulfinch Hall’s floor plan.

A sign taped to the tree reads: “Bulfinch Hall, Location and Perception, Separation of Space and Object.”

Through a unique perspective, von Klemperer essentially brought the historical Bulfinch Hall to the Sanctuary, a place of nature and seclusion.

Of her motivation, von Klemperer said in an e-mail to The Phillipian: “I wanted the viewer to become aware of how space is perceived differently in different settings.”

Von Klemperer continued, “Standing inside the marked off dimensions of Bullfinch outside is nothing like being in the building itself. … I am also very interested in architecture, and wanted to temporarily preserve Bullfinch’s architectural beauty, as [it] will be renovated.”