Five strands of colored yarn are suspended five feet above the ground, winding their way around multiple trees. The string eventually leads to a small, secluded clearing with a short tree stump surrounded by a nest of sticks. A pastel purple pillow sits on top of the stump, inviting the viewer to take a seat and reflect.
This piece, “Inhale Exhale” by Valerie Tang ’20, was a part of the annual Art 600 Exhibit, which had its opening this past Sunday in the Cochran Sanctuary. The exhibit incorporated artwork from six Seniors and two Uppers and explored the relationship between nature and civilization. Posie Millett ’20 commented on how she felt moved by the serenity Tang’s piece conveyed.
“I think that because her piece is interactive, I could actually feel what she was trying to cultivate in her piece. I could feel the peace she was trying to emulate and I think that is very important,” said Millett.
Tang wanted to explore the feeling of peace that comes with being in nature. Through her artwork, Tang examined Thomas Cochran’s intention behind creating the Sanctuary. According to Tang, Cochran had intended for the Sanctuary to be a place for quiet reflection.
“I started off with the idea of bringing peace to whoever is enjoying my installation, because I feel like being in nature is something that should make us calm and be able to think, and that’s something that Andover students rarely get to do… I made a nest which is supposed to be a symbol of home and security so [viewers] can feel connected and safe in nature and then they could sit on the stump, and then I used this colorful yarn to create a path to it,” said Tang.
One piece by Bea Hruska ’20 combined prom dresses from the 1980s with poetry written on long paper strips. Hruska hung the dresses and poetry on trees in order to represent humans’ connection to wilderness.
Hywot Ayana ’20 appreciated how the artists incorporated the Sanctuary in their pieces.
“Actually having the Sanctuary being a part of their exhibit is an amazing experience. I don’t think a lot of people get to spend much time [here], so it’s really cool to get people into this beautiful part of this campus,” said Ayana.
Although the exhibition was presented to the public, students will continue to improve on their projects over the course of the term. According to Therese Zemlin, Instructor in Art, students will be adapting each of their projects to fit a new environment that contrasts the space in the Sanctuary.
“The next stage of this project will be for the students to take all of the parts they have made, and they’re going to do one big, collaborative installation in the Gelb Gallery. So they will be taking all of the things that they’ve made for this context, being outdoors in the sanctuary, and they will be taking them all back indoors again,” said Zemlin.