I remember talking a lot about art, and why we make it and what it means in college and grad school. We talked about how art for beauty, and art for political change, and art for whatever are different and alike. We talked about how this is the time in your life to learn about stuff other than art, so that you have knowledge and experiences with which to make your art in the future. I thought about that when I saw the play Proof. It is a play about a mathematical proof (actually it is a play about relationships, but the proof is the engine). The playwright, David Auburn, had to know (or learn) quite a bit about math to write it. While I don’t think there is a cap on learning (quite the opposite), I do think there is something to be said for having passions and interests other than pure art, for art’s sake.
Stacy Levy is a sculptor whose work interactswith natural elements in a very purposeful way. Even her indoor installations are about the natural world. Her work is beautiful, and intricate, and is not fraught with meaning, it simply has meaning.
From her website: “Often people think that nature ends where the city begins. But natural processes are always occurring in the city. I like to explore the idea of nature in the city and make it visible to people. I look for sites which give me the opportunity to bring the patterns and processes of the natural world into the built environment.”
And her bachelor’s degree includes a minor in forestry.
Urban Oilfield: Diagram of a Vacant Lot is an installation that imagines what would be growing on the site if the museum were not there. The steel stems with different caps represent specific wildflowers and grasses. They are clustered together and at heights that mimic their natural counterparts. Viewers were encouraged to walk the paths of the lot to experience the installation in multiple dimensions.
“Tampa Wind” is a permanent piece on the side of the Environmental Sciences Building at the University of South Florida. I am sure it is much more beautiful in motion than it is in the still photos (although the still photos are stunning). She attached thousands of stainless steel discs loosely to posts so that they can pivot and tip as they catch the wind. Their movement is evocative of both the way wind and water move across the land. The pattern of the discs is based on the flow of a river in the Tampa area.
From the artist statement: “The movement of the wind is very much like the fluid movement of the water: there are eddies, vortices and laminar flows in both systems.”
This is marvelous work. It makes me want to learn more (I love it when that happens).
All images from Stacy Levy’s website.