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Community Connection: Accumulation Project

December 13, 2011

What’s 2,490 feet long, made of paper, and on view at the DMA?  Hint: visit the current Community Partner Response Installation titled Accumulation Project, by Annette Lawrence, Professor of Drawing and Painting at UNT.  Over eleven months, visitors of all ages contributed to Accumulation Project during workshops led by Annette during her time as a C3 Visiting Artist.  She also invited staff from various DMA departments to help with the installation in the days leading up to its unveiling.

Do you typically invite people to help you install your work?

In different contexts, I have students or volunteers or preparators or whoever works at the gallery, museum, etc. help with installation.  I work more often with staff than with the public. For the DMA, part of the project was with the public, during workshops for people of all ages.  Often, the adults were more interested in the idea of creating a long line of paper than the children were.  Some kids got into it, depending on their personality.  At the time of installation, we were in a time crunch and invited DMA staff to help, and I was really happy with the response.  It was a pleasure working with everyone, and it seemed like it gave folks a break from their regular work. There was a great energy about pitching in.  Once everyone was there, the installation was finished quickly.

The help of other people can cut the installation time in half.  At the MFA Houston Glassell School of Art, l had one guy working with me consistently, and people coming in and out through the day to install Theory.  That took us six days.  Usually when someone starts working with me, they start to own the piece: they’re committed and want to see it finished.  In this case, my helper wasn’t an artist; he was the maintenance guy, and he had time to help.

Theory, Annette Lawrence, 2003, installation at the Glassell School of Art, Houston, TX

What do you enjoy about teaching college students?

Mainly, I enjoy the process of discovering things with them.  It depends on the level of class.  In beginning classes, students are introduced to materials and are figuring out how to use them.  After that, students pursue things that interest them, and I point them towards resources.  I often find I am learning with them as they explore different processes.  Lately, there has mostly been more interest in paint than anything else, but at times it veers off in other directions like installation work or sound.  Photography has also been incorporated into work as well as lots of mixed media while students are finding their own way.

You spoke at the DMA earlier this year about your work at Cowboys Stadium.  What was your initial reaction to the request for a commissioned work of art at the Stadium?

Lisa Brown of Dunn and Brown Contemporary loaded the conversation with artists who had already said yes – Mel Bochner, Laurence Weiner, Matthew Ritchie and Olafur Eliasson – she was kind of setting me up.  I said “Oh well, OK I guess I’ll do it.”  I studied Mel Bochner and Lawrence Weiner as an undergraduate student, and I was pretty excited about being in a collection that they were in.  Meeting them in real life – in the context of a celebration for the Cowboys Stadium Art Program – I could not have imagined that.

It was an odd request; a contemporary art collection at a professional sports stadium had not been done before.  I wasn’t opposed.  I was excited and interested in seeing the work happen, but it is a little bit ironic considering my interest in sports (or lack thereof) that the one permanent installation of my work is in a football stadium.

I designed the piece based on the space I was given, one of the main entryways.  In the interest of relating the piece to football, I looked up a glossary of football terms on Google.  As soon as I saw the words “Coin Toss”, I knew it was the right title.  It just fit, beyond the shape of the piece – a circle moving in space – but it also goes with the start of game, and the artwork’s placement in the entryway.  The Jones’s response to the title was so positive, and it was part of the enthusiasm for the work.

Coin Toss, Annette Lawrence, 2009, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington TX

Apart from creating things, what do you do?

Look at other people’s creations, mostly.  Looking at art, films, theater, dance, music, and all the arts take up most of my time.  Visiting friends and family is high priority, where we often talk about art.  If it’s with friends, we generally have art conversations.  With family, it can be anything.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Just visiting and being with good friends and family. I’m not interested in Christmas hype, but I like how things slow down a little bit and everyone is observing that this is time to spend with people you care about.  I alternate between doing Christmas or not doing Christmas.  This is a not year – we’re just not really doing it.  We’ll probably send out greetings to friends and families around New Year’s – after Christmas.  Last year, we sent a fun video, so we’re thinking about what we will do this year.  Whatever we send will be homemade.

Installing at Cowboys Stadium

Accumulation Project is on view in the Center for Creative Connections through May 2012.

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 15, 2011 11:55 am

    I just recently went to the Cowboys Stadium for the first time, and my favorite part of the whole experience was looking at all of the artworks. I was really surprised, since it is an usual place for a collection, but the more I looked the more I realized how perfect this huge venue is for large scale works. I can’t wait to go back and get a closer look at Coin Toss!

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