Probably the first thing I should do here is describe Installation Art for readers who may have heard the term (or maybe not) but never quite knew what it was. Installation art is a themed exhibition that takes up an entire space, is temporary, and generally is not marketable unless an institution purchases the whole installation for its permanent collection.
My first memorable experience with installation art was sometime around 1990 at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire. My family was there visiting my mother, who had relocated there a few years earlier. I cannot recall who the artist was or the exact message, but I do recall the work was making a statement about trees, possibly the exploitation of trees? Anyway, I was very impressed how this artist used the medium to present a message. A second installation that impressed me was on display at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. It was was a map of the local rivers, streams, creeks, as well as ones that no longer existed. The map was made of glasses filled with water (or turned upside down if the waterway no longer existed). The size of the glass seemed to represent the size of the waterway.
I have completed three installations to date and currently am working on another one, the Cookie Cutter House Project. I have included a few images from those completed installations in this post and will discuss one of them in a future posts.
Here I will talk about my first installation, Life Cycle of a City. In March, 2006, The Free Library of Philadelphia’s hosted an invitational exhibition, BOUND/UNBOUND: The Dialogue Between Printmaking and the Art of the Book. Each participating artist was given a large display case to compose their piece.
Around 1991, I had created two works, Urban Decay and Urban Renewal (both pictured in this post) and I believe that this installation piece was a continuation of that idea. The installation consisted of four sheets of paper shaped into ovals, each oval representing a page of a book. Because the idea is that cities tend to go through a cycle of decline and renaissance, the pages
were displayed in a manner where the reader can start on any page and, progressing to the right, “read” the next piece of the story. The pages of this book are titled Decline, Despair, Transition, and Renewal. The pages are displayed among a common urban item: red bricks.
A photo of the installation is below. Quite honestly, I think I would do a much better job on it now and the photos of have of the installation are a bit fuzzy. But hey, it was my first installation! Oddly, my next and favorite installation to date was the following month! You can read about that here.