What Darkness Brings to Light

Virginia Polytechnic University, Armory Gallery, Blacksburg, 1997

Materials: four tons of coal with mirrors, hemlock timber with water pump, galvanized basin, glass disc, sparrow specimen, running water, wood, concrete, and steel

When I first visited the Armory Gallery during the development of my installation, I was struck by how dark it was. I remember the gallery being a warm dark gray color with hardly any light. What could I do in that darkened space?  What light could I bring in? 

I already had an installation designed, and actually drawn out, that I wanted to try in the space, but I was wary whether or not it would work. Preparing my installation, I was in my studio working on the initial design, when I accidently ripped up my finger with a forstner drill bit. This small accident convinced me that my design was not going to work for that space. I cast out the beam so that I could clearly see what I needed to do. I erased the old in order to create an opening to redesign the piece.

Laying in the emergency room waiting for the doctor to sew me up became a clearing - a clearing for the gift of genius, genius loci: entering into darkness (the prehistoric geological seam of Appalachia coal), light exposing death (a bird skeleton floating), the sound of running water (a line of life).  

What you see is the finished composition from those three thoughts that came to me that hour while laying in the emergency room. My hope was to allow the viewer to enter into darkness, in order to see more clearly.