Saturday, April 25, 2015

A gallery talk, an opening, and something unexpected

Tai Rogers and other MFA candidates gave their short talks to an interested public this afternoon.  The audience was other students and teachers, and some of their friends and families.

I was stunned when I saw Tai's installations.  As you open the doors to the Grunwald Gallery at Indiana University, you see his work immediately.


It's stark. It's huge.  It catches your eye.  These are two of the pieces you first see.  Then a third is on the right wall.

Clay construction with bent wood framing




 The Caldera opposite the doors, is huge, but with interesting details.  This is not a blurred shot, but with different levels showing so close together that it almost looks blurred.


Constructed of wood and small metal rods, against the natural marble setting.

Tai was patiently waiting to give a 10-15 minute talk, and he was first of 6 talking about their works.

The man in the plaid shirt was there to keep people from stepping on the Charcoal Island piece as people milled around.






Wooden dowels and shaped flat pieces of wood create a topographical depiction of an actual island which Tai gives the GPS coordinates to.
This is my last picture of the sculpture

Because suddenly a man walked right through the middle of it, seated over against the wall where he took off his shoes with charcoal on the bottoms.

You can see his footprints across the middle of the charcoal, then scattering it away along the edges
My son, Tai went to get something to clean the man's shoes with...some wet towels, and asked him to take them off so he could clean them.
Then they sat and talked about how it happened

And Tai assured the man that it was an accident and he didn't blame him for ruining his sculpture
The whole episode was over in 2-3 minutes, and it was time for Tai to give his talk, so he did, right next to "the Elephant in the Living Room," as he called it.  And he also said he had no hard feelings toward the man who caused the accident.


The rest of the day, people were commending Tai on the calm way he handled the accident.

And Tai continued to be subdued.  Some of it was the shock of a piece of sculpture being obliterated so quickly, and some of his quiet was his own feelings having settled after the build-up and adrenalin prior to this big event.  But this was all around noon, and the opening  wasn't going to occur till 6 that evening. 

What should he do with the piece?  He had major decisions to make.  Sweep the charcoal up.  And pile the pieces of his sculpture into a container.  But should he try to add another piece to his show?

He finally decided not to.

Did the gallery insure his work which had been destroyed?  It turned out it hadn't, so he won't receive compensation...though when he spoke with the director, there was some talk about doing something for him.  Student work isn't insured, and there wasn't any paperwork prior to the exhibit giving details of any  liability.

So the show continued, and Tai's MFA exhibition was more memorable, and for entirely different reasons than he anticipated.  He demonstrated that he is a very capable artist, and a very mature man who can cope with an unexpected crisis.

Incidentally, it wasn't until a half hour later that I went up to the man and asked him if he was OK, the one who walked through the sculpture.  I apologized for not having asked him earlier.  I was simply taking pictures.




6 comments:

  1. monumental and impressive, and I couldn't help but think of the accident as a metaphor for what man can do to the earth in a short amount of time

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    1. Linda, that is very insightful. I couldn't agree more.

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  2. Your son does amazing work!
    When looking at the sculpture after the accident, I immediately thought it should stay in the show with it's foot prints and scattered ash. It seemed to have taken on a new life and story. Your son is a very gracious man. Others might have totally freaked out.

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  3. You should be proud of your young man. He has great compassion for others who did not mean any harm. I really like his work and the interpretations he has created from his subject matter. I can't think how that work cold have been ever protected as if it had been raised up the guy would have tripped and fallen on it to. Maybe the school has learned something about securing a better space for works like this so it won't happen again. I wish Tai well in his future as an artist.

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  4. WOW. I can't believe your son had so much grace. It is a fantastic story. And I am amazed you got pictures of the whole thing. What will your son do now that he is done?

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  5. A great story and I know you're proud of your son both for his art and for the gracious way he handled the situation.

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