Dan Graham Gets a Temporary Design Face Lift

 
Christopher Thomas with Design I students

Christopher Thomas with Design I students, installing their project on the covered Dan Graham sculpture "Triangular Solid with Circular Inserts". Photo: Myra Scott

If you visited the Weatherspoon this Fall, you probably witnessed the tell-tale signs of roof repairs, scaffolding and noise. As excited as we were for our twenty-three year old building to get a new roof, we knew we would need to be extra vigilant about protecting works of art in the Sculpture Garden, especially Dan Graham’s Triangular Solid with Circular Inserts. Graham’s glass and mirror sculpture was purchased by the museum for its permanent collection in 2006 and is a favorite with school groups.

Dan Graham, "Triangular Solid with Circular Inserts", 1989

Dan Graham, "Triangular Solid with Circular Inserts", 1989, two-way mirror, clear glass and aluminum, 72 x 72 x 72 in. Museum purchase with funds from the Jefferson-Pilot Endowment, the Burlington Industries Endowment, the Weatherspoon Art Museum Acquisition Endowment, the Frances Stern Loewenstein Acquisition Endowment, the Louise D. and Herbert S. Falk Acquisition Endowment, the Lynn Richardson Prickett Acquisition Endowment, the Jane and Richard Levy Sculpture Fund, the Judy Proctor Acquisition Endowment, the Melanie H. and Robert C. Ketner Family Acquisition Endowment and the Weatherspoon Guild Acquisition Endowment, 2006.

Protecting the sculpture required the construction of a special on-site crate consisting of particle board and strengthened by 2x4s that were bolted directly into the courtyard surface. With roof repairs taking longer to complete than planned, WAM staff thought it would be a good opportunity to work with UNCG design students to dress up the temporary wooden cube and give visitors something to experience (rather than weathered particle board) when entering the Sculpture Garden. We approached UNCG faculty Christopher Thomas and Lee Walton about a design competition with participants from their Design 1 and Art 140 classes.

Christopher Thomas adds:

“Responding to a call for proposals from the Weatherspoon to ‘make use’ of the plywood box currently in place over the Dan Graham sculpture protecting it from construction debris, Design I students from my class and Lee Walton’s wrote in. (Cambrin Culp, Lydia Flores, Tiffany Hutchens, Shannon Keller, Lily Musai and CJ Toomer are from my class).

One of the student entries. Design proposed by Cambrin Culp, Courtney-Nachè Toomer, Lydia Flores.

Design proposed by students Cambrin Culp, Courtney-Nachè Toomer, Lydia Flores.

WAM Curator of Collections, Elaine Gustafson, provided us with information on the artist and his work so that students could better understand what his sculptures were about…the idea was to make images in response to the themes in Dan Graham’s work while exploring some basic Design I value and shape problems.  So, issues of fragmentation, social disconnect, reflection and environment were some of the departure points for the students’ designs.

Final installation was done using ink jet prints and wheat paste on a gorgeous Fall Friday followed by ham and bean soup in the museum courtyard!”

Students participants from Lee Walton’s Art 140 class:  Jenny Bennett, Miguel Cervera, Janelle DeRobertis, Chandler Field, Dray Fountain, and Logan Ritchey.

Visit the museum’s Event Photo page for more images.

Roof construction is finally winding down as work completes after Thanksgiving break. The final detail to complete is the re-installation of the speakers for the Bill Fontana sound work “Spiraling Sound Axis“—which is also a part of the museum’s Sculpture Garden experience.  Fontana’s work had to be de-installed during construction.  As soon as the Fontana speakers are re-installed our preparators will be able to remove the plywood protection from the Graham sculpture.  Visitors will once again be able to enjoy both the Graham sculpture and listen to the Fontana sound installation.

Kids playing inside the Dan Graham Sculpture at the Weatherspoon

Kids playing inside the Dan Graham Sculpture at the Weatherspoon

Thank you to the Design 1  and Art 140 students for all their work on this project.

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