In our first class Installation class session, we were asked to create an installation using the available materials sitting around in the graduate studios area on the fourth floor of MassArt’s Tower building. We could go outside to collect material for our installations, but we could not purchase supplies. We were challenged to conceptualize, gather materials, and create a site specific installation within approximately two hours.
While thinking quickly(!) about what I might create, I recalled an experience I had many years ago when I lived in Holyoke, Massachusetts. I used to regularly walk a sidewalk path alongside a hip-height rock wall. One day I noticed a small box tucked inside one of the concrete spaces where there had once been a large rock. The box was folded Origami style out of lined notebook paper. I passed by that box day after day for over a week. It remained undisturbed. Perhaps no one else had noticed it. I wondered if it was a secret message to a particular passerby. Was there something written on the lines folded inside? Should I leave it alone out of respect to a private message meant for someone I did not know or should I give in to my compulsion to remove it from its nook, unfold it and see what was inside? These questions came to mind each day I walked by. Finally, curiosity took over the best of reasons to leave it alone. I removed it from its space and carefully unfolded the crisp edges. Inside, well, there was nothing except pale blue lines on paper and the rough-torn edge from where the sheet had been ripped from a spiral notebook. I was just as delighted to discover no words scrawled inside as I had been at the beginning of my discovery. Running my fingers along the torn edge, I imagined the potentiality of the box’s meaning.
With this experience in mind, I created a sculptural sketch that was incorporated into a hole and the seam of the wall. My materials were mud made out of water and soil from Evans Way Park, wig hair, and three small green-leafed plants that had been trying to grow at the edge of the road. After sharing with my fellow students my experience of discovering the un-discovered folded paper box, I asked them the following questions: Which direction will your intrigue take you? Will you leave it to see what happens over time or will you feel compelled remove the drying mud to discover what lies beneath the surface?
One student (Monica Mitchell) poked away small pieces of the mud. No one else wanted to disturb it. It was mutually agreed upon to leave the installation in place to see what might occur over time.