site specific installation, 2021
Oil painted cardboard, plastic and metal boxes.
91 x 53 inches total size.
Sculpture Gallery, ECUAD
When I started my MFA, I took the time to walk through most of the indoor spaces of ECUAD and observed the effect of the natural sun light moving through the building. This exercise triggered a lot of ideas for potential installations, and I wanted to start testing these visions. I was really attracted to the South-East corner of the Libby Leshgold Gallery space on the second floor. The space is framed by a 20-foot wall of windows on the East side and a series of nine 8-foot windows on the South side bathing the space with beautiful natural light. There is only one tall and narrow wall, and since it is facing East, it captures the morning light coming from the windows into a beautiful V shape pattern that moves slowly across the wall. I captured a single photo of this effect in early September and have been revisiting that space physical and looking at the photo many times thinking about how I wanted to capture this effect passing through my work.
For my first critique of the semester, I installed a Wall Tableau using a series of paintings, studies, cardboard boxes both installed on the wall and on a plinth. It was suggested that I consider moving into space with my installation, a suggestion I wanted to explore further. I have been including cardboard boxes as part of my Wall Tableaux installations for a while now. Either installed directly on the wall, on plinth or in Boîte Tableaux the inclusion of these 3D objects has cast interested shadows and light effects into my work.
My Industrial Street studio – where most of these Wall Tableaux have been installed – shares some similarities with the ECUAD gallery space. Although my working wall is West facing it also received natural light from windows located on the South side starting at around noon. The effect of the natural light on my installations have been mesmerizing. Always different, it is engaging with my work in ways that cannot be planned exactly. I find myself captured by the impact of the natural light and shadows it has on the installation. Naturally it has affected the way I think, see, and experience my work so much so that it has been increasingly difficult to separate the role of natural light from the installation itself.
The Initial Idea
For the Libby Leshgold Gallery installation, I wanted to echo the South side window size and install a series of boxes that would cover the same area on the wall. Because the sunlight enters the space at an angle, the V shape pattern it creates is mostly located at the bottom of the wall kissing the floor. For that reason, I wanted some of the boxes to operate in a similar way and embrace the floor.
The installation process was a lot longer than I had anticipated. In took about 4 hours to install 87 cardboard boxes. Having an assistant for this type of installation would reduce the labour-intensive process and something I will consider for the next iteration. Unfortunately, the sun never really shone on the first day and I was only able to capture glimpse of it mostly during the install process.
Without the sun at the party, the work read differently offering interesting aspects that I had not considered. The early morning light was quite dim and beautiful, and I really enjoyed the subdued effect of it. Unfortunately, the building lights came on strong at 7:30 am washing the wall of any subdued natural light and nuanced information. As a result, I had to pivot my observation/installation to artificial light that I could not control or interfere with.
Hoping that Sunday would bring stronger sunlight, I came to the space before sunrise to capture its possible colour gradation. Vancouver weather being finicky in the fall (well always), I was dealt an overcast morning, and no light effects were captured. Patience with nature is really the lesson, and even if I was slightly disappointed it allowed me to spend time with the work and reflect on its potential.
The rhythm created by the different sizes and elevations of the boxes is quite interesting. I find my eyes moving throughout the installation needing to register the different shapes, colours and shadow effects offered. Even if these boxes have been painted over the span of about 7 years, once they are displayed together, they feel like they belong almost has if they where relatives of a singular family which further builds on my views of installing a community of work. Two of the boxes are painted bright pink on the one edge positioned at the top of the boxes against the wall, it reflects the artificial lights from the building casting a pink glow into the wall which is very strong and something I will consider for the next install. When I looked at the pile of boxes before I started to install, it felt like a lot of them, but once installed on the wall it feels like not enough. I think the install could benefit from being taller, perhaps meeting the top window height so the relationship with the window size would come across stronger. Extending the installation up would also allow for it to be viewed from the ground floor outside plaza. When I left yesterday, I took the time to look at the space from outside and I could only see a small section of the installation, not enough to allow an outside viewer to really notice or make any sense of it. The building being lit at night the boxes would come to life and could be witness from the outside which would make it more available and extend on the idea of outside/inside with nature/artificial lights.
When I left yesterday, I took the time to look at the space from outside and I could only see a small section of the installation, not enough to allow an outside viewer to really notice or make any sense of it. The building being lit at night the boxes would come to life and could be witness from the outside which would make it more available and extend on the idea of outside/inside with nature/artificial lights.
I learned a lot from that exercise and many more ideas were generated during the installation and observation process. I do understand now that this type of installation takes a lot of organization and planning. From the labour-intensive installation process to all the permissions needed and details of the space itself, this cannot be done “commando” style to really capture the potential effect I am after. It is also impossible to plan when and how the sun will interact with the work, so I must learn to embrace the ephemerality and lack of control I have over this type of installations. The good news is that it sparked a series of ideas that I would like to expand further on, so this was the first install of what I believe will become a series of installations using this family of boxes.
Images of Saturday Oct 2nd, 2021