Upcoming Event: Dianne Smith ‘Organic Abstracts’ at Bartow Pell Mansion

I received some great info about a new public art installation that will be on display at the Bartow Pell-Mansion beginning this upcoming Monday. Additionally, next Thursday, March 7, 2013 is Bronx Armory Day, a day to celebrate and appreciate Bronx artists and Bronx-related art. The artist behind the outdoor installation at BPM is Dianne Smith, a born and raised Bronxite who now lives in Harlem.

 

DiSmith_FlyingHigh

More about her installation, Organic Abstracts, from the West Harlem Art Fund:

‘Organic Abstracts’ is a new outdoor installation produced by the West Harlem Art Fund in partnership with Bartow-Pell Mansion and the City of New York Parks & Recreation Department for Armory
Week 2013. The featured artist is Dianne Smith, a native New Yorker that was born and raised in the Bronx but
now lives in Harlem.

The installation, comprised of two sculptures, showcases a minimalist approach to abstract art, scaled
large and reminiscent of works by Henry Moore who incorporated them into the local landscape and was
heavily influenced by non-Western art. The works will not be made from traditional wood or metal but from
repurposed materials offering a more direct and intimate experience for the artist. Viewers will be able to
discover the sculptures on the grounds of Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, part of the Historic House Trust of
NYC. The Bronx Trolley will make three round trips from Pier 92/94 to the Mansion for press & fair guests.

The Couple will be two beautifully androgynous heads approximately twenty feet wide and ten feet tall at the highest point. The heads will rest on one another and be secured on to a rectangular base. They will be made from everyday discarded materials such as, packaging, paper, cans, fabric, magazines, etc. These items will be tightly bound together with string, rope, as well as a nontoxic polymer, and waterproof varnish. As such, the piece will be weather resistant. The materials and it connectors will create a colorful and textural work of art that will engage the viewer. The Couple represents the idea of environmental, community and family respect. The concept of heads resting on one another, plays on the old adages “two heads are better than one” and “it takes a village”. They symbolize the idea that we all need each other and the environment to live harmonious and balanced lives.

Working with these objects and connectors allows the viewer to interact with the materials. For instance, the objects will be visible through the rope and string. The installation then becomes more personal to the viewer as he or she can identify things from their everyday life. Sculpting with everyday objects is similar to life there is no sure thing–something useful one moment is discarded the next. These materials speak to the fragile balance that exists in day to day existence. Thus, it is important to respect, support, and love our communities, families and environment.

Flying High is a site specific installation constructed out of brown butcher paper The paper may be crunched, crumpled, rolled, twisted, interlocked, woven and manipulated hanging between two trees. Its formations and sunlight will create patterns of shadows, as well as contrast of light and dark. The paper will be treated with waterproof varnish.

Butcher paper [for me] is a metaphor for the treatment of people in developing countries, particularly those of African descent. It is used for many things and tossed away once we are done. Wrapping meat, craft, shipping and packing of materials are just some of its uses. When we pack things we often pushthem down, bunching the paper to fill corners, trying to get everything tightly secured, and contained. It symbolizes consumption in a global market.

Flying High is also meant to question our ancestral, historical, cultural and political past, as well as the possibilities for our future. I will encourage the viewer to look at the wrinkles in the paper, think about the wrinkles in the skin of the elders in your families: What stories do they tell? What memories do they hold? Look at the ways in which the paper intertwines: How are you connected to your ancestral legacy? Look at the shadows the paper casts: What are your hidden truths? What is the imprint of your personhood on humanity and the environment?

 

To check out my post on last year’s Bronx Armory Day, click here.

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