Archive for November, 2009

PRAIRIE PASSAGES

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

NEW SOUTH CAMPUS UNION UW – MADISON

.8 miles from the main campus is the UW Arboretum and Curtis Prairie, the first restored patch of prairie in the world.

East_Curtis_Prairie

Big_Blue_Stem_Jill_Sebastian copy

The prairies as we know them today are reconstructions, fictions that require conscientious maintenance. This ongoing concern/question will be explored in PRAIRIE PASSAGES, one of six permanent integrated artworks my team and I are creating for the New South Campus Union.

PRAIRIE PASSAGES will be composed of two interlocking elements:
1. A detailed silhouette of a prairie plants etched into glass doorways and windows
2. A digital video of a prairie recorded during the changing cycles of one year

The full expression of the art will be the projection of the video upon an etched glass landscape.

Prairie_Passages_ecthing_Sebastian_concept

On October 9th, Arboretum staffer Molly Murray helped filmmaker Jake Fuller, photography intern Justin Bacon and me scout locations to set the camera. We are proposing to videotape at regular intervals, at least once a month, from the exact same location. Our intent is to produce a one-hour documentary condensing the seasonal cycles in order to evoke questions of time, sustainability and restoration.

With respectful frugality and attention to identifiable details, Molly clipped one each of essential prairie plants for me to take back in my the studio for study:

Heath Aster, New England Aster, Baptista, Bee Balm, Big Blue Stem, Little Blue Stem, Black-eyed Susan, Prairie Clover, Compass Plant, Coreopsis, Culver’s Root, Cup Flower, Grama Side-Oats, Horse Mint, Indian Grass, Indian Plantains, Prairie Drop seeds, Rattlesnake Master, Rosin Weed, Wild Quinine

I savor their names as I draw or discuss them with Colin Dickson, my studio assistant. These sketches will be the basis for the templates needed to etch the glass. Pouring over photographs, I am delighted to realize I can now identify these special prairie species when I spot them growing wild in unexpected places or cultivated in gardens.

Colin_tracing_Jill_Sebastian copy

Work In Progress

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

NEW SOUTH CAMPUS UNION UW-MADISON

Upon ascending the grand staircase of the University of Wisconsin’s Memorial Union one might spot Sociotate Crescit Lumen, a hopeful, yet to a modern reader, esoteric inscription in the marble floor. Over it’s hundred years, this much beloved building has become a wonderful crazy quilt organically expressing generation after generation of ideas – diverse interpretations yet convergent values stitched together.

I have been chosen to work with Workshop Architects to integrate art into the New South Campus Union. We will set in motion a dynamic environment intended to affect students with themes of how, in our time, we manifest the vision and goals of the University. My hope is to initiate an environment of conversations that will, like the Memorial Union, collect over time.

New South_Campus_Union_from_Workshop

Last spring I met with over fifty students and staff for brainstorming sessions, follow up discussions, assessment of ideas/outcomes and a student preview/ critique of my initial concepts. We carefully weighed issues of longevity in ideas, materials, technology and maintenance. Ways in which students can be successfully involved over the entire term of the project were developed.

With help, I honed two intersecting themes.

THE ENVIRONMENTThe most pervasive subtext among all participants in brainstorming sessions reflected Madison’s seminal role in the history of conservation and ongoing commitment to the environment.
ART, SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGYThrough collaboration, the same base source material in nature can be seen differently from different disciplines. I have been working with: FLOCK THEORY, BIFURCATION, and LIGHT phenomenon.

New_South_Union_plan

The proposed integrated art will flow from the major entrances, concentrate at two fireplaces, intervene in small ways throughout the first three floors, make a focal statement and foster collaborations.

PRAIRIE PASSAGE NORTHEAST MAIN ENTRANCE
PRAIRIE FIRE(PLACE) COFFEE HOUSE
KINETIC FIREPLACE SUN GARDEN
LEOPOLD’S PIGEONS NORTHWEST ENTRANCE
FOCAL STATEMENT SUN GARDEN
• SUPERVISED STUDENT PROJECT TO BE DETERMINED

Over the next two years this blog will follow the progress of these five projects.

UW_brainstormingCHERETTE PARTICIPANTS

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN STUDENTS: Amanda Schmitt (special thanks), Zoe Berg, Louisa Brouwer, Maggy Donaldson, Hogan Edelberg, Sally Haulfmann, Barry Helgestad, Sarah Jankowski, Kate Kudish, Ted Lott, Ginger Lukas, Kyle Miller, Molly Petri, Katie Reahel, Naomi Schliesman, Jamie Schroedter, Johann Sung, Amelia Toelke, Lucas Urbain, Lauren Wojcik, Sara Woldt, Logan Woods and many more…

UW STAFF/FACULTY: Paul Broadhead, Dan Cornelius, Susan Dibbell, Gwen Drury, Julie Grove, Jay Martin, Robin Scmoldt and The Design Committee

MIAD STUDENTS: Chad Adams, Jeanette Arellano, Alex Astriedes, Lisa Chen, Tracy Choomack, Meagan Crouch, Shannon Hoppe, Molly Noyes, Paul Peck, Erik Peterson, Anne Ryan and Bauhaus exchange student Rose Marie Weinlich