Since September 2018, students of the Hayground School in Bridgehampton worked in a collective effort with artist-in-residence and former Hayground teacher Alice Hope to create a cumulative piece that represents a shared goal. The art project, titled “Aeon,” will have a public viewing on Saturday, May 4, from 10 AM to 6 PM, with an opening reception from 6 PM to 8 PM, at Kathryn Markel Gallery in Bridgehampton.
How did you become involved with the Hayground school?
This project is an experiment. I brought my studio practice, process, and project into a community, to model social practice. This is the first time I’ve done this.
You worked for an hour each session, culminating in a 24-hour period (a day). What is the significance?
It was poetic coincidence that the overall experience added up to a day, that our cumulated hours together added into a 24-hour period, the unit of time that we built on. Sometimes the hour spent felt like an Eon, sometimes it flew by. Productivity, interest fluctuated but nonetheless, we continued to accumulate the sculpture, some days more than others. In this project, each can tab symbolized a day, so day by day, years were strung that added into centuries. Every day counted.
How did you see students’ work ethic or interest develop over the course of that period?
The kids were makers, were hands-on in transforming a huge pile of used can tabs (this huge pile was all collected and redeemed for charity by hundreds of donors, so inadvertently it was already a collaborative piece) into a minimalist/maximalist sculpture about time that required them to think abstractly/symbolically . . . and they were social. I think the project was part “The Little Engine that Could” meeting suspension of disbelief. In these ways, the project could be seen as important for kids.
Why was this project important for or helpful to the students?
The process required just enough focus that it was meditative. We sometimes worked together silently in order to experience that, but overall, it was a social experience. The conversations and shared experience took the project to a collective space. We sat together doing the same activity and talked in different groups from the nursery to the oldest group . . . three to 14-year-olds.
Why the title ‘Aeon’?
We built an additive sculpture with used can tabs; we worked on segments that I joined together to make a continuous piece. Our goal for the project was to represent a huge period of time. “Aeon,” therefore, made sense as a title.
Did every student do the same thing? Or did each student have their own, simple activity?
It was not necessarily efficient or assembly-line; work sometimes was lost, often had to be revised, or redone, but the intention, effort, and shared activity prevailed.
What do you hope the public takes away from this exhibit?
I would hope that the public could experience the sculpture as a sculpture to be experienced, and the back story of how it was made adding additional meaning.
Kathryn Markel Gallery is located at 2418 Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton. Learn more at http://www.hayground.org.