Client: The Venue Group
Location: Huntsville, AL, United States
Completion date: 2022
Artwork budget: $45,000
Designer, Lead Artist & Fabricator
Lead Wood Artist
Metal Artist & Installation Lead
Metal Artist & Installation Crew
Peeking up below, inquisitive eyes gaze into our world. As Peekaboo grasps the sweet gum trees of the forest in Apollo Park, she draws herself up from the underground. With her upper face alone at ten feet tall and twelve feet in diameter, hands five feet tall with a ten foot grasp, we can easily imagine this giant child’s full proportions continuing deep into the world below. Designed to alter viewer’s sense of scale, Peekaboo orients audiences to the vastness of space underfoot. Paths allow for people to walk around and through her domain, interacting with her from many perspectives. Peekaboo has a steel frame surfaced with reclaimed redwood skin, shaped into over a thousand small polygons which changes shade the weather. Her hair is fashioned from steel, finished to a rich rusty patina.
Peekaboo is one of two Giantesses designed to bring a sense of wonder and whimsy to the Apollo Park which flanks Huntsville, Alabama's new Orion Amphitheater. Commissioned by The Venue Group, these designs participate in the vanguard of large scale art emanating from the world of music, dance and art festivals, marrying burning man/festival aesthetics with long term public art goals & practices. Peekaboo literally peeked up into my imagination, a bridger of worlds, which seemed perfectly appropriate for this context.
The vendor booths and sculptural gates at the Orion Amphitheater & Apollo Park feature a back woods Americana aesthetic that contrasts the ivory greek style of the grand amphitheater music venue. I tied into local historical backwoods aesthetic that with our use of reclaimed redwood and rusted steel to bring to life this youthful woodland being.
To make use of redwood as skin surface, we needed a design that allowed for flat rigid surfaces to describe the large detailed contours of Peekaboo's face and hands. We wound up making a two layered, metal, then wood, exosekeleton of over a thousand flat polygons. I modeled her in sketchup, then had the metal polygons laser cut or hand traced and plasma cut. We welded each metal piece at precise angular relationships with it's neighbors. Our lead wood artists worked from traces of the metal polygons that often needed nuanced alterations to create the a snug fit. Peekaboo's hands had to be carefully designed, fabricated and installed to fit together around the trees in such a way that long term health of the trees would not be compromised. This was a very involved collaboration in design and installation with our crew, our engineers, the city arborist, the concrete pourers, and most of all the land itself.