Tangible Air

Posted by on May 18, 2012

I am a desert girl. A wave of dry heat that rises as the sun comes up feels like summer to me. In the winter I want the snow to really resemble powder. I hate it when you go skiing and they say, “we have fresh powder” and it is actually a thick, sticky, wet snow. Growing up my life was filled with dry air. We have a day or two every now and then of rain, but then the clouds blow away, the sun comes out, and everything dries.

It came as a bit of a surprise those first few months of college when, in addition to adjusting to campus life, I had to figure out a new way of breathing. The air was so thick with humidity that it required a conscious effort to push it in and out of my lungs. We still talk about the day that I moved into the Freshman dorm as the hottest day ever. We were sure my roommate’s dad was going to have a heart attack right there in my new dorm room. It was hot, and the humidity made it unbearable.

Delainey Barclay lives in Delaware, where I think the humidity is pretty legendary. This series of small installations is her nod to the idea that water vapor gives the air around us weight and presence. Humidity is something that we can both see and feel.

She uses childhood craft projects as the basis for this work. It is an attempt to keep the pieces relatable, familiar. I certainly wrapped my share of balloons with yard dipped in glue. However, my finished products were never as lovely and spherical as hers are.

As part of making the air visible, Barclay considers the light and shadows. From her artist statement:

“Although the physical work itself is important, the existing space in and around the piece is of equal importance. Honoring this, shadow, light and moving air can be properly showcased.”

She has a show right now at Crane Arts in Philadelphia, PA called Air and Space.

All images from Deliney Barclay’s website and Flickr Stream

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