Friday, March 30, 2012

Donald Lipski's explains St. Paul nautilus

Looks like a fantastic addition to public art in Boston!

This from

To cap off major renovations, the Cathedral Church of St. Paul is getting a new design for its long vacant pediment: A nautilus shell, which will be lit at night.

The design, by Philadelphia artist Donald Lipski, is scheduled for completion by Oct. 7 - the 100th anniversary of the church's dedication as a cathedral (it opened as a church in 1818).

The artist weighs with his explanation of the imagery in what is one of the most elegant, articulate, and clearly written statements I've come across in a long time (also on Artists take note!

Donald Lipski replies
By Donald Lipski (not verified) - 3/28/12 - 7:03 pm

Thank you all for your thoughts. Here are some of mine:

St. Paul’s is a house of prayer for all people. So I wanted to find an image, a
symbol, that would speak to everyone.

I had the spiral in mind before I ever saw the Cathedral in person. The Greek
proportions of St. Paul’s derive from the Golden Rectangle, which in its
perfection generates a spiral. The SPIRAL is a universal symbol of the spiritual
journey. It’s the blueprint for life itself. Carl Jung saw the spiral as the
archetypal symbol of cosmic force.

I came for my first visit on a sparkly day last fall, got there early and took a
walk in the Commons to see what it looked like from a distance. Just a little ways across, and with a beautiful view of the church through the trees, I came across a woman who had made a spiral in the leaves and was walking it over and over like a labyrinth. I took that as a sign. We are all on a path. We spiral in toward our center, and venture out again into the world. The spiral is a symbol for the spiritual journey.

The Spiral is the most pervasive shape in the universe. We see it in the divine
workings of nature—from the movement of sub-atomic particles to the vastness of galaxies. It evokes thoughts of eternal growth and progression, circling out in ever widening circles.

My sculpture will float in front of a blue panel, which I took from the shield and flag of the Episcopal Church. This is the blue used by artists for centuries for the clothing of Jesus's Mother, Mary. It’s called “Madonna Blue” and represents the human nature of Jesus, which He received from His Mother. And that is so apparent in the spirit at St. Paul’s.

The St. Paul’s spiral is a slice from the shell of The Chambered Nautilus, an amazing creature. It starts it’s life in a tiny shell. As it grows, the nautilus
enlarges its shell through the addition of a new, larger, stronger chamber suitable for the next stage of its life. Season by season, these chambers are added, spiraling out with beautiful precision.

Here in Boston, when St. Paul’s was in its infancy, Oliver Wendell Holmes saw the nautilus as a beautiful metaphor for spiritual growth. This is the last stanza of his poem, The Chambered Nautilus:

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,

As the swift seasons roll!

Leave thy low-vaulted past!

Let each new temple, nobler than the last,

Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,

Till thou at length art free,

Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Boston Sculptors at U MA Lowell April 2 - 26, 2012


Curated by Univ. MA Lowell (UML) professor Ellen Wetmore

Installation assistance by UML professor Jim Coates

Artist Reception and Gallery Talk with Gillian Christy: April 4, 5 - 7 pm

A Conversation with Nancy Selvage: April 23, 3-4:30 in O’Leary 222

Outdoor Exhibition continues through June 30

Lowell MA: The University Gallery at UMass Lowell is pleased to present a group exhibition of work by the Boston Sculptors. This exhibition highlights the variety of approaches to sculpture explored by 30 of the members and features an eclectic examination of materials and processes. The show includes works installed in the gallery and outdoors in the adjacent quad area. The Boston Sculptors is an artists’ cooperative whose founding members recognized in 1992 that there was a shortage of exhibition opportunities for sculpture in the Boston area. They set about to create more opportunities, in exhibition spaces, public galleries and in public art. What began as a series of conversations over dinner has, twenty years later, yielded two successful commercial galleries and numerous critically acclaimed shows.

Representative works from Massachusetts Cultural Council award-winning artists Laura Baring-Gould, Rosalyn Driscoll, Beth Galston, Mags Harries, Sarah Hutt, and Julia Shepley will be included as well as important works by B. Amore, Caroline Bagenal, Kim Bernard, Benjamin Cariens, Gillian Christy, Murray Dewart, Donna Dodson, Laura Evans, Sally S. Fine, Peter DeCamp Haines, Ken Hruby, David Lang, Michelle Lougee, Joyce McDaniels, Nancy Selvage, Jessica Straus, Marilu Swett, Dan Wills and Andy Zimmermann. Outdoor works are on view through June 30th and include work by Andy Moerlein, Margaret Swan, Hannah Verlin, Joseph Wheelwright and Leslie Wilcox. This show is offered in conjunction with the yearlong activities throughout New England to celebrate the group’s twentieth anniversary.

Curator Ellen Wetmore is an established artist who has been a member of the Boston Sculptors Group for over eight years. She works with a variety of materials and media, including sculpture, video, sound art, and interactive environments. Ellen joined the UML Art Department faculty in 2008 and teaches foundation courses.

Jim Coates has taught sculpture at UML for over 30 years. He’s an established artist whose site-specific work revolves around an interest in shelter forms (primitive, modern and contemporary) and their ephemeral relationship to the natural environment.

The Dugan Gallery in Dugan Hall hosts a coinciding companion exhibition of sculpture by the B.F.A. students enrolled in the Spring 2012 Sculpture class working under the direction of Prof. Coates.

The University Gallery at UMass Lowell is coordinated by the Art Department and funded by the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Funding for the outdoor exhibition provided by the Lowell Cultural Council, a local agency, which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. Additional funding provided by the Office of the Provost at UMass Lowell. All events are free, open to the public & handicapped accessible. Gallery Hours: Mon. – Thurs. 10 am - 7:30 pm, Fri. 11 am – 4 pm, Sat. by appt.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Stuff Moves: The Kinetic Sculptures of Kim Bernard

Originally published at: Boston Art Images Blog

Sculptor Kim Bernard demonstrates the Harmonograph

Sculptor Kim Bernard demonstrates the Harmonograph

I visited the Boston Sculptors Gallery on a whim this past Sunday and was delighted to find Kim Bernard, the artist responsible for Stuff Moves, one of two exhibits happening there, overseeing the gallery that day and encouraging visitors to play with her installations. The spacious back half of the gallery was alive with eye-popping red balls — hanging from cables, topping off the ends of sticks and serving as the weights at the end of pendulums — but the star of the exhibit was movement. Bernard’s Stuff Moves exhibit is play, art, color, choreography and physics lesson combined, and part of its fun and refreshment lies in the viewer being allowed to physically engage with the installations. The result for me was a happy wonderment inspired by bright color, large scale wave-like fluidity, and the occasional surprise of motion taking unexpected turns.

She invited those of us in the gallery to take part as she introduced us to Harmonograph, a set of three wooden structures utilizing red balls for pendulums and a pulley string for controlling the up and down movement of an ink marker. The central structure has a top platform with piece of paper lying on it, and a pendulum that can be set into motion to make the paper gently move back and forth, up and down.

Sculptor Kim Bernard watches the Harmonograph's pen descend to the paper surface to make a drawing

Sculptor Kim Bernard watches the Harmonograph's pen descend to the paper surface to make a drawing

When the pendulums of the two outer structures are pushed into movement, the viewer can lower the string holding the marker to let it create a drawing on the piece of paper. The effect on paper was highly reminiscent for me of the beloved Spirograph art toy of my childhood, except that in this case, once the pendulums have been set in motion, the forces of nature take over.

Bernard’s kinetic sculpture work comes from her fascination with movement and its basic laws. Another piece in the exhibit, Quantum Revival, was inspired by the Pendulum Wave, which she came across in researching pendulums.

Quantum Revival kinetic sculpture by Kim Bernard

Quantum Revival kinetic sculpture by Kim Bernard

Bernard first laid a series of hanging red balls into a shelf bin on the wall. As she released them all at once, we watched the balls take up an undulating pattern of movements, alternating between moving in sync, in waves, and in complementary step. The display was a lovely and seemingly choreographed dance.

“I certainly did not discover the Pendulum Wave,” says Bernard, “but rather ‘borrowed’ the idea to create a kinetic sculpture. Though I knew each pendulum needed to have an exact period, I did not know how to calculate the length to produce the exact number of oscillations. My son, who is a physics major at Harvard, knew the formula that would generate the cable lengths, hence the correct number of oscillations. In five minutes he produced a spread sheet with all of my cable lengths.”

Dance of Shive sculpture by Kim Bernard

Dance of Shive sculpture by Kim Bernard

Dance of Shive, another kinetic sculpture, was made up of 12 feet of nylon strapping stretched between two posts. The strapping held horizontal rods, each tipped with a small red bouncy ball. She welcomed us to move the rods, setting off a twirling wave of the 146 red balls. The effect was an ever-changing beautiful spiraling movement. I found the moving shadows it cast on the wall almost as enchanting as the piece itself in motion.

I was disappointed to learn I’d stumbled upon the exhibit on its final day — otherwise, I’d be encouraging you to pay a visit there. I did get a chance to talk with Kim Bernard about her work, though.

She has lived in Maine for 25 years, and works from a home studio in an attached barn. In the cold months, she works in a smaller, heated area in the barn, while in warmer months she can spread out into the entire lower level (her husband, a painter, has a studio on the second floor). If she really wants space or the wood shop, though, she will work there on milder winter days. “My step son is a custom surf board builder/designer and has a shop on the third floor of the barn,” says Bernard. “You might be interested to know that my 19-year old son will major in music at USM in the fall and my 22-year old physics major son is also a musician. My step daughter is a professional photographer in NYC. Need I say, we’re a creative bunch!”

PO: How do you work in your studio, and how often?

KB: It all depends on my exhibit schedule. For the three months leading up to my Stuff Moves exhibit at Boston Sculptors Gallery, I worked in my studio all day, every day. After I take a show down, I regroup, fill the well, research, you know…put some compost back into the soil. I always have ideas for future work. It’s a matter of what I’m most curious about, what I’m excited to investigate, what spaces I have to exhibit my work in. It’s often a matter of matching an opportunity with an idea that’s been fermenting for some time. My husband would tell you I’m a workaholic, I don’t agree. It’s a labor of love and I thoroughly enjoy what I do. If I’m not in my studio, I’m researching a future project, visiting a gallery or museum, or doing something art related.

What is atypical about this year is that I received 25K grant that has allowed me to reduce my teaching and focus on some specific projects: Build a Harmonograph, create some interactive kinetic sculpture, take a physic course, study cymatics to create an interactive sculpture, work with time-lapse video and investigate Body Sensor Networks. You can read more about that on my blog:

PO: Can you describe your general evolution toward doing what you’re doing now with sculpture? How did you start out? Were there any Aha moments for you along the way that pushed you in a particular direction?

KB: From the get-go, I’ve been a mover and a maker. As long as I can remember I have liked to make things and enjoyed dance. Six or so years ago I started questioning why I had two simultaneous but separate practices, one of creating 2-D work (in encaustic) and sculpture (in a variety of materials) and the other, a movement practice which has run the gamut of dance, martial arts and now yoga. I have always been aware of my body on space, ergonomics and kinesthetics. There was one particular ‘aha’ moment…I was assembling a sculpture that required that I bend, scoop up a piece of the sculpture, string it on steel rod in a spiral fashion (like a bead), then repeat the motion again and again. I became more interested in my body moving in space than the sculpture.

The reason why I make sculpture is probably because there is so much body work involved. So, I made it my assignment to bring these two pursuits together and now my work is about movement and nothing else. At first, that seemed limiting but now I realize it is infinitely expansive. At times that means I’m creating kinetic sculpture, sometimes it’s making contraptions that draws, sometimes that means I move and make marks as a record of my own movement. I’ve been playing with stop-motion video lately since it captures and allows me to study movement patterns.

With this exhibit of interactive kinetic sculpture people have often asked if I have a science background. I don’t. I studied sculpture for my BFA and MFA. My answer is that I am simply fascinated with movement and things that move, and that my work is an attempt to understand how things move. My way of doing that is with my hands and with my body.

To see the Stuff Moves exhibit in motion, watch this short video.

The Boston Sculptors Gallery is at 486 Harrison Avenue in the SOWA district of Boston’s South End. It functions as a cooperative, hosting two simultaneous solo shows each month featuring the works of its 34 members.

Note: Stuff Moves was on exhibit Feb. 8 - March 11, 2012