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 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.