wichita :: sen - 1000 doilies revisited

so... what did i do in wichita at the ulrich??

well... part one was to put up  sen : 1000 doilies. the same installation that i first put up at fouladi projects [more about that installation and all the fabulous people that crocheted for me, etc. ]

except this time i wanted to reconfigure it. instead of putting it into horizontal rows...

i wanted to see it in vertical rows. one color per row. all 100 colors spread across the wall. 
i kept the color order approximately the same. rainbow order, red to black, light to dark. 

once again it took a village - a GIANT village - and a couple of laser levels to put it up. i had warned the curator and the preparator [james ackerly porter - who swore that this was the absolute hardest installation he's ever put up. the doily installation that broke the professional preparator] but until we started putting it up, they really had no idea

the really awesome thing is that everyone on staff at the museum ended up helping too. from curator, to director of the museum, to the education curator, to the marketing person, to outside arts people [including heather smith jones ! but more on her later], some students, etc. etc. i'm working on the full list and will post it shortly. 

with all the help we were able to put it up in 4 days and finish it literally 2 minutes before the show was having a "soft opening". i had been told that it didn't need to be up for that event, that we could take much longer, but as we got closer and closer a core group of us worked fervently to get it done.

i have to say... i was/am really thrilled to see it this way. it's a totally different piece. 

for my residency i was asked to build a piece while in wichita as well [this will be my next post]. but i spent days and days sitting IN the museum working. i've never quite had that much of an opportunity to sit with my work while other people interacted with it. 

the thing that people said over and over again was some version of - oh my god this is so much labor. 

even the culligan water delivery man stopped to mutter that to himself under his breath. 

and it's true. the wall is a living testament to labor. each doily handmade by someone. each one put up with 8-10 pins - painstakingly placed in the wall. [everyone has calluses now]. 

every artist who put up doilies said : "you know you should try..." trying to think of a way to make a jig or use a tool that would simplify and make the process easier. one helper [lindsey] was going to write an essay on all the suggestions. but i wonder if the LABOR is part of what makes this piece magical. 

because there are so many hands involved the piece becomes bigger than just me. bigger than my head. bigger than all the initial ideas that i had about it. 

it becomes a piece about bonding. a piece about joking about who's thumb hurts the most. a way for me to learn about a person - what kind of job do they have? what kind of food do they like? i got to meet several local artists and chat with them about their work, their interests, how they made a living [with the cost of living in wichita, MANY artists don't need day jobs. such a different world than california or new york or other major cities]. 

i'm continually amazed that people THANK ME for the opportunity to help. even with their sore fingers and the potential mind blowing monotony. 

and because it's a museum - they make signs. with my name HUGE. 

and they asked me give a lecture - they have a series called senior wednesday. a very engaged audience came, ate snacks and then listened to me blab for a bit. they asked amazing questions. 

i also talked to a couple of classes. an art history one [where students were then invited to help put up doilies]. and a philosophy class - where they admitted they didn't interact with art on a regular basis. where one woman asked if this was my "hobby" - and when i politely, but firmly informed her that no it was NOT merely a hobby - she apologized for perhaps offending me. [i told her she hadn't - and indeed she didn't. i'm not offended by that question, but i do find it disheartening that this seems to be a position that working artists need to continually defend and navigate.]

i coaxed them into seeing a relationship between sports and art and i had them question why one was so prevalent and the other was marginalized in our society. [hey i tried]. 

it was moments like these - 2 local boys pointing out their favorite colors - that will be seared into my consciousness. it's easy to forget how art CAN actually influence people. in a multitude of ways. i'm grateful that this residency gave me a reminder of the potential impact of art and a way for me to voyeuristically witness that fact. however briefly. 

come walk by the piece with me??

the piece garnered a bit of press - the wichita eagle wrote about it
and lindsey - who helped install it - happened to work for the local NPR station - for which she created a commentary.  i told her that as an avid NPR listener i felt like i could die happy now that i was mentioned on an npr affiliate.


i love seeing it hung differently. now, if i could only see it in person!
The time lapse from the week is really cool to see! And knowing that all kinds of folks appreciate the work must be a pretty great feeling. (:
Anonymous said…
Thanks for sharing what the process of making such lovely work is like. The help you received from so many people must have been heartwarming indeed. Also, the sense of community it stimulated must be similar in some respects to what the women who used to sew the 1,000 stitches for the men going off to fight WW II must have felt: working for a common goal brings people closer together!
Sophia said…
Wowie Lisa !!! I love seeing your installation piece hung differently in a new way!
Both your genuine spirit and heart are so big...it is no surprise that everyone pitched in to help and be involved.

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