Client: Savannah College of Art and Design
Location: Lacoste, France
Completion date: 2007
Artwork budget: $20,000
Celina Jeffery, Ph.D.
I was commissioned by the Savannah College of Art and Design curator Celina Jeffery, Ph.D. to create a series of suspended outdoor works titled Altocumulus for their campus in Lacoste in the South of France. This installation was a part of a high-profile group exhibition Afterglow and its function was to lead the visitors through the narrow streets of the mountain-perched medieval town.
Commissioned work had to be site-specific, both in its form and content and relate to the architecture and the character of the town. Bright, translucent, and ephemeral looking mesh installation contrasted effectively with monochromatic stone architecture and was well integrated into the theme of the exhibition. Each “cluster” of clouds was approximately 10’ x 9’ x 6’. Printed on fabric drawings were developed during a workshop with a group of SCAD students. Once the clouds were printed, students and I applied areas of color working with permanent inks. We printed and painted almost 200 yards of fabric. Altocumulus cloud is an important element of the Mediterranean weather forecast and climate, associated with the cold katabatic wind Mistral. Stories involving Mistral are part of the local culture. Suspended on thin stainless steel cables, as if drying in the wind, clouds were also alluding to the local tradition of a public lavoir – or laundry. These stone structures used to be important meeting places for local women.
The project was complex and multistage. Several meetings with the curator took place in United States to brainstorm the ideas for the work, based on the photographs of the possible sites and curatorial vision for the exhibition. I presented sketches and the plan for the student involvement. After completion of the work and discussions with the installation crew and the director of Lacoste campus, the work was shipped to France. There, seeing the sites in person, I made final decisions and cut the clouds to appropriate shapes and dimensions. During the installation we needed to consider historic character of the town and preserve the integrity of the existing structures.
This project would not be realized without the vision, support and the involvement of a group of incredible people who worked with me on each stage of the design, painting, installation and a three-month maintenance process – in the scorching heat of Savannah, GA, and cold Mistral of the late spring in France (among other, more climate-controlled locations).