Community Art Installation to Greet Boilermaker Finale
July 1, 2011 — As part of its year-long 35th anniversary celebration, Sculpture Space alumna artist Wennie Huang of New York City will return to the Mohawk Valley to install a temporary art installation on the Sculpture Space grounds in West Utica on display July 9 and 10. Admission is free and interactivity is invited. In a whimsical reference to Utica’s famed historic mansion, now part of the Munson Williams Proctor Museum of Art, and to the iconic elm trees that once lined city streets, Huang’s multimedia installation is entitled Elm Fountain.
The large-scale three-part site-specific interactive sculpture will incorporate various elements of land, air, and water in a playful reference to Utica’s history and identity for all to enjoy. The project is in part sponsored by Mayflower Trade with additional support from Adirondack Fleece.
“We are delighted to welcome Wennie back to Utica in honor of the community, our anniversary and the Boilermaker,” noted Executive Director Sydney Waller. While in residence at the international studio program, Huang created a series of ‘24-hour sculptures’ by each day rearranging the same small wooden beams in endless different configurations.
For July 9 and 10 Huang envisions a sprinkler fountain made of pvc pipes, and kites overhead weather permitting, flying an image of historic Utica above the ghostly shape of trees outlined in the grass below. She also intends to create T-shirts embellished with the imagery, which will be for sale.
Huang described her artwork as a “play in three acts.” Act 1: Shadow Elm: A sunprint on the grassy lawn, will recall the silhouette of an elm tree and Utica’s loss of its elm trees, which shaded the city’s most prominent streets. This print on the grass, made by blocking the grass from the sun for a week, will show a faint shadow-like shape reminiscent of the shade under an elm tree.
Rising above the sunprint on the grass, Act 2: Root Fountain will present a rambling interconnection of PVC pipes that will refer simultaneously to tree roots and underground pipes. The “fountain” will spray water, reviving the pale deprived grasses of Shadow Elm.
Act 3: Air Fair is inspired by a 1909 aerial photograph of Utica found on the Internet. Simple kite forms based on creations by the turn-of-the-century inventor, Charles Hargrave, often called ‘the father of the modern airplane’, will include box and cellular kites screenprinted with this panoramic historical image of Utica.
The challenge of launching these kites into the air will evoke a return to more glorious and unstructured childhood past-times.
“This original and delightful installation celebrates our community, its history and present-day strengths such as the Boilermaker and its rich cultural traditions, and invites casual onlookers to become active participants,” noted Sydney Waller, Sculpture Space executive director.
The artist will be in residence the weekend preceding the installation to cover large areas of grass in order to produce the image of a tree once the covering is removed on July 9.
Sculpture Space has for 35 years connected professional artists who imagine and create contemporary art with the community. Since 1976 the entity has awarded nearly 500 outstanding artists with 2-month residencies in the Mohawk Valley. Sculpture Space promotes the area globally as a great place for community and for art making: rich in resources, generous people, and materials, with rich layers of many cultures in the community.