Art-600 Preview: Installation Explores Nature and Brings New Perspective

A collection of mirrors hang from two criss-crossing ropes, tied to four surrounding trees in the Cochran Bird Sanctuary[a][b][c]. The dangling reflections are centered in the enclosed area, creating a multilayered image effect.

The sculpture, by Hoben Chargualaf ’21, is one of the many Art-600 projects that will be exhibited in the Sanctuary. According to Therese Zemlin, Instructor in Art, this annual installation is an important project at the beginning of the course. By encouraging the use of the surrounding nature, the course aims to push students out of their comfort zones.

“Their pieces should somehow subvert a notion or expectation. For instance, it might mean making something that is normally private public, or something that is normally public private. I think that the assignment instills confidence in the students,” Zemlin explained.

Chargualaf’s dangling mirror fragments reflect, quite literally, the interaction between humans and nature. According to Chargualaf, his project deals with how industrialization has created a disconnect between humans and nature.

“When people are in nature, sometimes they’ll throw trash on the ground and pretend that no one saw it. Now that you are looking at yourself, you can see what you are doing to the environment. The message that I am trying to convey is that in order to live harmoniously with the environment, we need to first take a look at ourselves and what we are doing instead of trying to take ourselves out of the equations and not see us as the main problem,” said Chargualaf.

These projects require students to think critically about nature and how to take advantage of the space to convey their artistic messages. According to Valerie Tang ’20, the project should incorporate nature and depend on the enclosed space of the Sanctuary. Tang is planning on using her assigned enclosed space–a tree stump in a small clearing–to build a nest and pillow.

“The concept [of my project] is about how Andover is such a busy place and everyone is always super stressed, so we don’t have any time to stop and think. I wanted to make an interactive piece where my audience would come into the nest and sit on the stump while the trees are lit up [by the sunlight]. I would allow them to sit there for a minute or two, look into the nature surrounding them, and enjoy themselves while being at one with nature,” said Tang.

Zemlin said that she hopes those who view the sculptures, whether intentionally or unintentionally, will be impacted by the students’ work in some way.

“When people come to the opening to see the work, or if they happen to discover the work when they are out for a run or walking their dog, I hope that they enjoy the work. I hope that the work gives people questions and makes them wonder. I hope that it might change their perspective on what the Sanctuary is,” said Zemlin.