Big skies… this is the working title for a new project I’m working on. I announced last week that Sechrest Gallery at High Point University invited me to show Paper Mountain, Sky Project and a group of paintings for a solo exhibit in the fall, and installation for the show starts exactly 90 days from today. Because I want to make a lot A LOT of paintings between now and then, I decided what this exhibit needs is a wall-full of paintings – sky paintings to be specific.
So I am making 50 sky paintings that will literally cover one of the gallery walls.
The paintings will be hung in a grid 19ft tall and 17ft wide.
I’ve decided to use acrylic on Yupo, a polypropylene paper. The acrylic dries relatively fast compared to oil paint, so I can easily stack finished paintings as I work. As for the Yupo paper, I like how slick it is to paint on, and I know that it will sit against the wall rather than buckle.
Why am I using paper rather than wood or canvas to make these paintings? I want the images to sit flat on the wall rather than jut out into space like a panel does. I don’t want the objectness of a panel.
I’ll share with you progress on this project as I go, so stay tuned for images as I figure things out.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with an image of a sky I particularly like. This is Field and forest with red, one of the paintings from my Tiny Landscapes collection. I enjoy being able to see some of the underpainting of the sky… bits of pink and gold glimpsing through layers of sky and cloud. This little painting is acrylic on wood panel and measures 6×6 inches.
Like a lot of artists, I use photography to document my work and to share my process with the world. I sometimes take photos as reference material for my work. And sometimes the photos make the work. In one of my newest works, Sky Project, I crowdsourced photos of the sky via Instagram to make a video projection. People from all over the world shared photos.
The project is a reaction to the outdoor experience as filtered through our phones. We take photos of everywhere we go and everything we do and share them on social platforms such as Instagram. Many people’s experience of the outdoors is entirely based on what is Instagrammable. So how do we continue to have unmediated experiences in nature with the constant distraction of telephones in our lives? Can we still do that?
While technology like our phones and social media connect us, they also sometimes broaden the divisions between us. When we go outside with friends and family, we can feel genuinely deep connections both with each other and the outdoors. Through Sky Project, I encouraged people to look up from their phones, toward the sky that we share with everyone else – to get outside and to look around. Ultimately, I want my work to spur viewers to get outside and experience nature for themselves. I hope that by doing this, we can forge more profound connections with each other and develop a deep appreciation of nature together.
I finished installing Paper Mountain at Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art last week. After one year of planning, three months of folding paper cranes, and one week of installation with a team, it feels good to see the project come to life and to share it with others.
Below are two time lapse videos showing the installation process from Saturday night through Wednesday. I used GoPros to shoot one photo per minute for the duration of the installation. The first video was shot from the ground floor, and the second was shot from the mezzanine for a bird’s eye view. These are the steps we followed to install Paper Mountain:
Assemble the scaffold (not for the faint of heart)
Place tape on the floor to mark the footprint of the mountain
Attach the wire fence to the ceiling trusses
Tie fishing line to the wire
Open each crane (fold wings down)
Pierce the top of a crane with a needle
Run fishing line through a crane
Place crane at correct height
Squeeze split shot (small lead weight) under the bird to hold it in place
On November 14th, 2018, I started folding 1200 birds for Paper Mountain. Well I actually started earlier, but all the birds I folded before then didn’t make the cut. I was testing out papers, and didn’t find the right combination of size and weight until the middle of November. So from mid November until February 12th, I folded birds every single day without fail (except for 3 days spent painting at a workshop). In this video, I am folding the last of the 1200 birds. As soon as I folded that last bird, I felt a tinge of nostalgia. I really enjoyed my daily folding (typically 1-2 hours per day).
From March 9-14, I’ll be installing Paper Mountain and Sky Project at Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art in Charlotte, NC. The exhibit opens on March 15th. I’m still raising money to make this project happen, and I’d love it if you would contribute and be a part of this big undertaking. Thanks to everyone who has already contributed to the project!
Please forward and share this with all your friends!
Note: The video is sped up 2x and it’s set to Ella Fitzgerald’s “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.”
From now until March 2019, I am working on a project for Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art in Charlotte, NC.
This project has two parts, a very large paper mountain and a video projection of skies.
The idea behind this is to create an experience that evokes the outdoor environment. As a painter, my work is about the intersection of the outdoor experience and art. Because painting is inherently a two dimensional experience, this installation is a way to create a more immersive experience for viewers.
I’m looking for partners to help cover the costs of the project. There are the material and equipment costs to build the mountain and to create the sky project, staff to assist with the building of the mountain, and all the time and work I am doing between now and March to make the project successfully come to life.