Archive for the ‘installation’ Category

The Way

Thursday, November 19th, 2020


Despite our strange and challenging times, I am finding a way to keep doing the work I am called to do. In June, I was contacted by Laura Foley, to create a piece for her home. Laura is a poet who lives with her partner, Clara, in Pomfret, VT. Laura had seen my piece, “Hot and Cold” at Sculpture Fest and was wondering if I would be up for making a similar piece for her home. I agreed and then made a site visit and discussed the size, color and location of the piece. It turned out that they wanted the piece to be 7 feet in diameter. In addition, I learned that Laura and Clara had walked the Camino de Santiago and felt that this significant experience could be linked by color to this commission. I would replicate the yellow and blue of the route markers, they have a facsimile of one of them at their house. After taking pictures of the house and the route marker, I began to prepare this project.


In early July I went up to my friends’ woodlot and cut a bunch of striped (aka “moose”) maple. This tree is considered a weed by most folks as it has no value in terms of lumber or firewood. My friends, Daniel and Creigh, are very happy when I cut these saplings out of their woodlot as I am creating opportunities for other trees to grow. It has been a goal in my art making to find materials that are being cast away or are easily regenerative. I find these saplings beautiful in their slight bending forms.

I selected saplings that are 1-4” in diameter. It’s best to cut these trees from late spring into the summer because sap is flowing through the Cambrian layer of the bark making it easier to peel. I peeled the bark off of these saplings and then let them cure for a couple of months. After this drying period, I cleaned off any branch remnants on my table saw. I then power sanded each sapling. Next I primed and screwed the saplings onto a plywood and 2×4 backing for structural support. Then I set a screw in the center of this assemblage and with a string and sharpie drew a large circle. Using a skill saw, I cut the saplings into the shape of the circle. I then disassembled the structure and labeled each sapling for future assembling. I then started the paint process; over the course of a couple of weeks I applied four coats of paint.


In mid-October I loaded up a COVER truck with staging, tools, paint, and all the pieces of this installation and headed to Pomfret. I set up my staging and found the place on the wall where this piece would reside. I then spent the rest of the day reassembling all the parts and screwing to each other and the wall. Laura and Clara witnessed the transformation of their wall and the only regret was that we did not do a time lapse of the assembling. Laura says “Jay Mead’s piece, entitled The Way, (after the Camino De Santiago), brightens up and energizes our house; its dynamic design and bright yellow and deep blue colors pop out from the grey walls, reminding us every day of beloved Spain, and our amazing 500 mile trek. Our house is no longer generic or banal, but head-turning, unique and exciting, thanks to The Way.”

The Way has a visual vibration to it caused by the repetition and intensity of the yellow 39 saplings set against the grey of the house and the blue of the core square set behind them. The Way continues a simple direction in my work in that it uses an ensemble of multiple pieces to create a unified form.

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My day job still continues to be with COVER leading crews of volunteers doing essential home repairs and providing safe access to low income homeowners in our area. We have adjusted to Covid protocols and are working hard to restore Hope and Community, these are the main words that describe the mission of COVER.


As a response to these anxious times, I am feeling a need to be grounded and invested in something tangible and real, and so I just upped my garlic planting from 800 to 1200 garlic seeds (cloves). I have been selecting the best seed stock from this variety of garlic for over 15 years. Planting garlic is always an act of hope, gratitude, and faith in the future. May we all find ways to plant seeds of hope.

“Repurposed:” A Show at the AVA Gallery

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018


    The AVA gallery in Lebanon, NH, will be home to some of my work from April 27th through May 30th. An opening reception will be held on April 27th from 5-7 pm. The show will be a continuation of my exploration of art using repurposed materials. As part of my work for COVER, a White River Junction-based nonprofit that helps repair homes of vulnerable residents, I find myself making frequent trips to the dump, to dispose of excess materials. Seeing this as a waste, I have begun setting aside materials that could still have some utility as materials for sculpture and art.


I have been intrigued by these materials, not only because I don’t like watching them go to waste, but also because of the interesting effects that time and the elements have on them. The roofing that I am currently working with, for example, is worn in a way that makes it continually interesting to look at. The galvanized metal develops interesting patterns and marks over years of exposure to the elements, giving it nuance. Each unique piece brings its history with it to the sculpture.

    For the upcoming show, I have been experimenting with large forms, as the show will fill two rooms at the AVA gallery. While these pieces are made from repurposed wood and discarded metal roofing, my primary interest is exploring how these forms can be expressed and how they engage with the spaces they are set in.

“Suspended Earth:” My Contribution to SculptureFest 2016

Thursday, September 15th, 2016


This installation – which I installed for the “Grounding” SculptureFest 2016 at King Farm in Woodstock, Vermont – continues a body of work that concerns multiple elements creating a larger form. I was curious about finding a way to float clay in the black box of what I like to call the zen pagoda. I like the idea of taking something earthbound and floating it in the air. In creating this piece I was also inspired by images of asteroid belts. This clay has experienced many uses: other installations, as casting form for sculptures, masks and giant puppets. It is unfired and will be recycled eventually. The balls are hanging on 40 lb test monofilament.


As I worked on this piece the process of applying these 200 clay balls was additionally a type of meditation. I could listen to the wind blow, people talking, teams practicing down at the high school, the town lunch horn blow, grass cutting, art being created, crickets chirping and the birds singing. For four days this was my grounding to this place, my way of being present to each moment. It is no secret that being aware of these moments is the root of happiness.


During the 3 September opening, it was a pleasure to have dancers Tracy Penfield and Chelsea Palin choose to move through and with my piece.

For several years now I have enjoyed the space and freedom offered by the magical space that is King Farm. This place is a fantastic art lab, where artists can experiment and float new ideas. It is a place where time has worked its special entropy into these buildings and land. I feel so lucky to be a part of this fabric that is the evolving history of King Farm.

“Grounding” SculptureFest 2016: Co-Curated by Jay Mead

Thursday, September 1st, 2016


Welcome to “Grounding,” Co-Curated by Edythe Wright and Jay Mead 

It has been such an honor to pull these 20 artists together for this SculptureFest 2016 show we are calling “Grounding.” As you will see, King Farm, in Woodstock, Vermont – with its forests, pastures, pond, topography and classic barn buildings and sheds – is a wonderful tableau for installations and sculpture.

Thanks to the Vermont Land Trust for allowing us to use this unique place to show fresh creations. In fact, many installations were created in situ and some are still curing! Special appreciations are also very much due to Peter and Charlet Davenport for all the hard work they have put into making this such a special venue for so many years.

So what is “Grounding?” We hoped this title would be open enough to invite a wide variety of work and that is what we have here. In this show, you will find many forms of “Grounding;” it can be interpreted on a personal level as in “What grounds me?” Grounding can also be literally taken as connecting to the ground or even to run aground. Then there is the common theme of grounding as in relating to this place, home, nature, the earth, relationships, or even the greater cosmos. We hope this work engages you in the greater question of “Where do you find your grounding?”

Happy trails!

Images of the installations can be viewed on the SculptureFest website by clicking on the respective artists’ name.

“Outdoor Sculpture” Elective at The Sharon Academy

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

In an Outdoor Sculpture elective, which I led at The Sharon Academy for 10 students from late March to early June, we focused on two very different group projects utilizing saplings. For the first two classes, students focused on the gathering and cutting of the saplings. They then peeled the bark from the saplings. We selected the most bendy and supple of this material and, utilizing cedar posts as anchors, we began the construction of two shade structures, pictured here:




These half domes or “apses” are located on the soccer field end of the volleyball zone. They will form a trellis system for scarlet runner beans and 2 northern kiwi plants. Each structure is 10’ tall, 16’ in length with a width/depth of 10’.

For the second project, we utilized the thicker non-bendable pieces of the saplings along with sapling stakes from a previous art project. After the bark was stripped off, I cut this material into lengths varying from a foot to five and a half feet. We ended up with approximately 500 stakes that were then painted white. These stakes were then driven into the ground in a grid-like formation so that the stakes went from 6” to 5 feet above the ground, pictured here:




From a distance, this white piece appears as a curvilinear form. This was a collaborative team effort requiring that all students put in a majority of class time on material prep. I trust the students will come to value this unique experience. The installation is beside the entrance driveway to the school.