Client: Connecticut Department of Economic & Community Development.
Location: Storrs, CT, United States
Completion date: 2013
Artwork budget: $243,000
Leers Weinzapfel Associates Architects
“Merge” is a permanent, site-specific installation spanning portions of Oak Hall on the campus of University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. Extending from the first and second floors of the north lobby into the south lobby, the sculpture is an organically flowing river of shiny aluminum. Appearing as if it comes from nature, the man-made material implies constant movement while reflecting the changing light throughout the day and night.
Over 100,000 polished, brushed, & colored aluminum were used, ranging in size from 1×7″ to 4×23″; 10,000 steel screw fasteners were also needed.
This commission was specifically chosen by the Boston architect, Jane Weinzapfel, to integrate beautifully with the building her firm designed. Much of building involves copper plating (outside and inside), and as such, she was looking specifically for my use of aluminum to complement her design. She had seen images of my massive installation at the Weisman Museum of Art in Minneapolis which used similar materials to complement the Frank Gehry designed museum, and she was convinced that this version of "Merge" would be most effective to activate the interior of Oak Hall.
I worked hand-in-hand with Jane's vision, as I always seek to find the right balance between my work and the design of the architect (who I also consider to be an artist). In fact, I absolutely love to work with architects in a collaborative process, and as such, was in close contact, both through images and in person to ensure that our work fit in with what she was looking for.
Jane was extremely delighted and exuberant with how this piece turned out, and I am equally satisfied and proud of what we accomplished together!
The collaboration process between me and my studio and the architects was constant and ongoing all of last year (2012) leading up to the five weeks of on-site installation, and continued throughout the duration of the install (Dec 17, 2012 - Jan 21, 2013).
From the beginning I sought a symbiotic relationship with Jane's vision, and worked hard to ensure we were on track. We both decided where the reinforcing plywood would be attached behind the sheet-rock on the ceiling, mapping out exactly where the sculpture would go. We worked with the structural engineers to make sure all building codes were met so that there were no surprises during the installation process. Each week we would send them photos and video of the piece, constantly keeping them up-to-date with progress reports. We worked with Jane's firm throughout the install as they came down from Boston many times while the piece progressed. The final sculpture represents a true collaborative process.
After nearly 12 months working together, hundreds of emails and images/videos sent, and countless phone calls, "Merge" is indeed something we are both very proud of.
Dimensions of the space: North Lobby: 168' (L) x 21' (W) x 16.5' (H) South Lobby: 23' (L) x 5.5' (W) x 3' (H) The aluminum was sourced using our broker in Toronto who was able to locate the exact colors and sizes of the 100,000 strips of aluminum used in this installation. We had a team of 10 assistants (one foreman) helping us - half from Minneapolis who worked on my Weisman Museum "Merge" installation and half from New York City. We were on campus for nearly a month, returning to NYC only three times during that time.