Blog . Interning at the Sculpture Center
I am interning at The Sculpture Center and had the opportunity to help artist Jenny Fine with her installation/performance called, “Flat Granny and Me: A Procession in My Mind.” You can read more about her work here. Jenny Fine is a storyteller from Alabama who draws inspiration from her family’s tales of rural Alabama, "cotton country." She mixes past and present with fantasy and reality. “Flat Granny and Me: A Procession in My Mind” is her newest edition of an ongoing series. Fine created a life-size cardboard cutout of her grandmother using photographs she took when she was alive. This is her attempt to prolong her relationship with her grandmother after her death. What began as a cardboard cutout has developed into a series of artworks.
Meeting Jenny Fine was absolutely amazing. She is such a kind, pleasant person to be around and it was a joy assisting her with the exhibit at The Sculpture Center. On the first day I met her, another CIA Sculpture major and I helped her carry all of her supplies into the venue and organize it into piles. Fine brought many materials to incorporate into the installation. Huge bags of cotton, pine tree branches, and family photos and trophies.
She had chicken wire that had rolled up cotton stuffed inside, large hand-painted canvas rocks, an image of her Grandmother's face she would project on the wall as the moon, a fog machine, costumes that needed ironing, and small things sewn.
Over the next few days before the performance, I rolled up pieces of cotton and stuffed them into the chicken wire to connect her statues. Jenny and I covered a bench with chicken wire and, over the course of two days, stuffed the chicken wire with cotton so the bench would blend in with the surroundings. We figured out a video projection set up using an old time slide projector and a mirror. Jenny instead took an antique lamp and attached the slide with her Grandmother's photo inside. A magnifying glass was attached to the front of the lamp to bring the image into focus. The fog machine didn’t cover the floor as planned, so it was put in a smaller area. Straw was purchased to cover the floor in the main room where the performance would be taking place.
The customs needed ironing and a button had to be sewn onto a shirt so I spent some time doing those things before opening night. On opening night I took all of the buckets that had water for her pine tress outside and swept the floor. After clean up we dressed in our costumes. I painted my fellow performer solid white so she would blend in with the statue.
The gallery space was divided into two separate spaces. You entered the space by walking through a curtain in the doorway greeted by two performers, myself included. We wore old time country clothes and masks, opening a curtain for people to pass. Only our arms were visible. The first space had a projection of Jenny’s Grandmother's face as the moon with pine trees suspended from the ceiling. Fog billowed across the floor, over the family photos, newspaper articles, and family trophies. Star-shaped lights dotted the ceiling.
A masked performer sat on the Boll Weevil Sculpture tossing peanuts and talking to Jenny's father who flew in from Alabama for the performance. Another performer was inside the sculpture imitating the real Boll Weevil statue from Jenny’s hometown. Sitting further down on the sculpture was another girl tossing cotton in the air. Staying true to costume were others holding lights to illuminate the space. The final two performers were Jenny Fine herself and her friend Rachel dressed in the Flat Granny custom. They spun around a large silver and gold sculpture while waving.
My experience was extremely enjoyable and I learned some things that I didn’t know were possible. I feel like I gained a lot of good experience from assisting Jenny Fine and am excited for the upcoming artists who I’ll assist.