Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Reclaiming the Labyrinth

Okay, so I figured I should get the bad news out of the way, right up front: What is about to follow is a WHOLE lot of pictures of sticks.

That said, one of the things I love about school is their insistence about going outside of my comfort zone-- using new materials and doing projects I would not choose for myself. I should also probably mention that one of the things I hate about school is their insistence about going outside of my comfort zone (;

This project is complete out of my zone-- I prefer to choose my own materials and I like them fairly refined. I also tend to work in a fairly small size-- the 'largest' of my comfort scale can still be picked up and carried by a single person. So a site work is outside of my ken.

I've previously posted pictures of my first group site work, where we made a whole bunch of rough wood stakes to create a pattern. Well, it was decided that we were going to do another one, recycling the pieces from that first project. We would each be doing an individual piece, but all together to complete a group project.

Now it happens that several weeks before this assignment, I was walking on campus and happened to notice that the chapel by the art building has a walking labyrinth down by the road. It's kind of hidden and if you're not looking for it, you would never actually see it. The original pattern is based on the walking labyrinth originally found in the Chartres Cathedral in France.

I've actually been fascinated with this labyrinth design since I was a child and came across it in a magazine article. Even drew it, before the internet provided a way to just copy the image (;

But the labyrinth on the Troy campus is overgrown, half of it is in the shade so the plants that marked the path are mostly dead and gone, and tree limbs and other debris had fallen into it.

I knew as soon as I found it, that I wanted to use the labyrinth for one of my art projects this semester-- and when a second site work was decided, knew this was where I wanted it to be.

My idea was that man had planted this labyrinth-- and it had been reclaimed by the nature that surrounded-- I wanted to reclaim the labyrinth, putting my own mark on it, instead of just repeating the pattern that was originally there.

As a result, I refused to remove any of the tree limbs that had fallen, but created my sculpture around them-- those sections were unwalkable, so I emphasized their unwalkability. In the areas that the path had vanished, I created my own path that would lead to the center.

My classmate Carrie had the center section to design and work in and my classmate Tamara worked outside of the labyrinth. She was originally planning on only doing one side, but I talked her into doing it on the other side as well, so that it was not independent of the group project, but part of it.

What I did then was a series of photographs from different angles and at different times of day to see how the labyrinth changed.

Once I'd explained my intention of nature reclaiming and being reclaimed and retamed by man's hand, my classmates ran with the idea in their projects as well (:

If it looks like the wood in the center is completely contained within the web, it is. It does not touch the ground at all.

I even brought my boys up with me at night, to see what it would like at night.

Then headed back first thing in the morning to see what it would like in the early morning light.

I even recorded walking the path.