Client: Bonnaroo Works Fund and Arts at the Airport
Location: Nashville, TN, United States
Completion date: 2016
Artwork budget: $2,000
Arts at the Airport
Apollo Art Services
Don’t Flip Out is a Bonnaroo themed flying flip flop tapestry installed in a 28’ x 15’ skylight in the Nashville Airport. It was one of five exhibited during the 2016-2017 installation period. Using aircraft cable, foam flip flops, hula hoops, piano wire and chicken wire, the installation celebrates the music festival on the farm. It captures the vibe and spontaneous choreography as 80,000 people swirl from 5 major stages in a temporary community. With a strict weight limit of 300 pounds the materials and design makes a big impact across the entire skylight.
The goal of the commission is utilizing existing designed spaces to display projects “of highest artistic quality and communicate the Bonnaroo brand to new and familiar audiences.” Artists and designers are urged to relay iconic festival elements, such as arches, infinity symbol and fan atmosphere and the code phrases “Play as a Team”, “Radiate Positivity” and more. It was commissioned by the non-profit Bonnaroo Works Fund which supports regional and national organizations with a mission of making communities healthy in areas of arts, education and environmental sustainability, in partnership with Arts at the Airport. Both organizations appreciate the value and impact of introducing art into everyday experiences and the potential to buoy and enrich the soul.
The display spaces present several challenges for integrated work: exposed to unfiltered UV light and heat, with limited load bearing capacity and directly over the path of millions of visitors annually. Applicants are required to present detailed plans and construction proposals. The terminals do not close for installation, so careful coordination is needed to mount the work in the dead of the night when traffic is slowest. Airport security procedures add another wrinkle to the collaborative process.
Keith Oliver designed and fabricated the work at his studio in Virginia. His hands-on approach allowed for refinements and tweaks to the original design in response to the materials and flow of the piece. Panels were delivered to Arts at the Airport and their team of artists, five accomplished artists and professional art handlers who work with museums and organizations throughout the region. While Arts at the Airport’s insurance restricts the original artist from being on the manlift to install the work, Keith was onsite the night of the installation working on the ground to assemble the panels and directing the installation crew on the lift. He developed installation plans and cabling diagrams from the unusual perspective of someone on the ground looking up. The crew had not laid out or worked with the panels prior to that night, but readily adapted and stayed true to their mission of never having a two-night installation.
Life is too short and far too serious. We all need opportunities to break out of our routines and experience culture and community from an unfamiliar perspective, but for most of us it is a rare indulgence. Don’t Flip Out allowed me to draw on and celebrate such an experience, with a whole new group of friends and strangers. I appreciate that the sponsors embraced the spirit and raw energy of the piece and granted me the coveted spot just outside the lounge with live music and talent. It’s Nashville, after all!