We had a perfect day for making a sculpture! The Shared Spaces Greenwich event, hosted by Greenwich Arts Council, who set us up in the front of their building, attracted a full-flag’s worth of input and participation. My intern from Rye High School, Trey Gallos, and I moved the flag clay to and from the event, meaning we only needed to be on site 4 or 5 hours and then I was able to cast and complete the piece back here in my studio, a rare treat. Everything went smoothly including free parking all day, steps away from our event space.
The piece is drying now in the kiln to enhance its strength, giving me a chance to reflect on some of the interesting moments and anecdotes of creating this piece.
First off, I may have thought I knew what the ‘Greenwich crowd’ would be, but it was much more interesting and diverse than the vague image I’d had in mind (duh!). It was not all white, professional class 1-percenters by any means, and we had people of all ages. The day started off the first object to be imprinted, by an older, somewhat aphasic woman, the new Peace symbol I had just 3-d printed. Where did she want it? Right in the middle of the Union, ‘because that’s what matters most in the United States now: Peace”.
A few other folks stood out: a beautiful woman riding herd on a half dozen unruly young girls, who chose the Cross to add to the piece, explaining that her mother and grandmother had both been devout Christians, and how the church had been particularly meaningful when her mother had first come to the US from the Philippines.
A handsome young, 30-something power couple joined in, clothing, energy and physique suggesting they had just come from the gym. The had each chosen one of the sharks which we placed so they sort of erupted from a wave together in one of the folds of the flag. Later as I worked on the piece I kept thinking about them and their choice of shark, as if the shark were their avatar or power animal, as if they came to embody the raw physical and mental focus and power of the shark.
Then there was a young black woman from Yonkers who chose the FBI logo and talked to us about her great respect for the government in general and the FBI in particular, and her desire to work there one day. And the young asian-american high schooler who picked the cat, saying that he loves bio-sciences and wants to be a scientific researcher.
Lots of local people hung around the edges but weren’t comfortable coming forward and joining in the piece. One man was moved nearly to tears by the idea of Shared Spaces and wanted to purchase the piece on the spot. I told him it was the property of the Greenwich Arts Council and will be needed for future events but maybe they would want to do another one for him in exchange for a donation!
The piece is finished and hanging in my New York space now so that curators can see it as we prepare for our national exhibitions - it has real presence and is a distinctive record of our time meeting people in Greenwich.