Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Opening for ‘Core Values’ and ‘Ground Form’ Installations

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

On Saturday, June 13 we held an Opening for my ‘Core Values’ and ‘Ground Form’ installations at the Aidron Duckworth Museum in Meriden, New Hampshire. For me, the piece was a meditation on our society’s inaction on climate change, as well as a meditation on color and form. It was gratifying to have some 50 people attend the event. Many thanks to Museum Trustee Grace W. Harde for having made the event possible and to Colleen Bozuwa for having produced the above video of the Opening.

I am equally grateful to Tracy Penfield and Lucia Gagliardone who offered an improvised dance performance among the installations. The dance was conducted in silence to focus our attention on the piece in that moment. So we all heard birds, car alarms and the occasional motorcycle. It was wonderful to see the piece surrounded by people responding to the color and forms through dance, a child climbing, people throwing frisbees and others engaged in quiet contemplation.

Comments I heard from attendees included:

I don’t consider myself artistic. For me art is a new way of thinking about things that are foreign to me. It’s just a cool way of thinking about things. My perception of artists is that they have a need to express themselves. What I get out of it is another perspective that is new and different and appreciated. It leaves me in awe because I don’t do that naturally.

And:

How wonderful, Jay! I loved the colors, the shapes, the way they relate to one another, the grace of the dancers, the green setting… The whole presentation calls up a peaceful, thought-provoking mindset. Thank you for sharing your work with us.

The Art of Sustainability at Mount Holyoke College

Thursday, April 30th, 2015
Spirit of Sustainability Masks

Spirit of Sustainability Masks: ‘Nature’ and ‘Community’

In an effort to expose students to sustainability through art, Mount Holyoke College invited artist Jay Mead to campus on April 9th and 10th to lead a workshop on the “Art of Sustainability,” deliver the Miller Worley Environmental Leadership Lecture and facilitate a community art installation entitled “The Spirits of Sustainability.” 

Art of Sustainability Workshop

Geo Class, Art in Nature Collage, April 2015

On April 9th, Jay led a workshop with Professor Serin Houston’s 15 “Sense of Place, Sense of Planet” Geography students. Using found natural materials such as mud, seeds, grasses, bark, wild scallions, leaves, sticks, rocks, acorns, trees, water, flowers and snow, students created art installations around a lake on campus. During the second half of class, students described their processes and pieces, and Jay offered his own observations into the creative dynamics underpinning the installations. Students’ stories travelled from the past to the present to the future and touched on a range of themes including identity, wonder, success and home. While this workshop was a wonderful exercise in the diversity of expression and interest, additionally, the students were given time to engage in serious play with natural materials. Jay emphasized that such creative exercises allow participants to experience deep right brain thinking. Such thinking can lead to insights into issues of personal and global sustainability.

Miller Worley Environmental Leadership Lecture

That evening Jay presented a public talk on “The Art of Sustainability” to about 50 people. He discussed what it is like to live in the “Cobb Hill” eco-village in rural Vermont and how sustainability inspires the art he creates. “The first thing is love,” Jay told the assembled faculty, staff and students at Mount Holyoke College. “You have to fight for something you love. You have to engage your heart.” He went on to say that “Sustainability needs to flow from the heart and be so integrated into the way humans live that we no longer have to use the word.” Clearly engaged with these ideas, students, faculty, staff and community members asked Jay a multitude of questions about how to translate such expressions of sustainability into urban contexts, how to keep creativity and art alive in the face of ecological crises and how to embody personal ideals to the fullest extent possible.

Spirit of Sustainability Masks

Creation of mask molds

Creation of mask molds

On April 10th at the entrance to the Mount Holyoke Art Museum, Jay facilitated a day-long, community workshop open to all. Despite the cold weather, some 50 dedicated passersby participated. “Sustainability is a lot about community,” said Victoria Dawes an environmental studies major from Corning, New York. “When the entire community is coming together and thinking about environmental things, it’s an interesting way of getting onto the same page.”

Using hundreds of pounds of clay, car tires and recycled styro-foam, participants collectively shaped the clay into two larger-than-life head molds, “The Spirits of Sustainability.” One head was embraced by a series of hands to exemplify Community, while the second head featured a starfish, butterfly, flower and the sun to symbolize Nature. Then, they layered papier-mâché over the molds as a second step toward creating masks. Jay later returned to campus to release the masks from their clay molds.

Painting the 'Community' Mask by Keely Savoie

Painting the ‘Community’ Mask by Keely Savoie

On April 24th, as a part of Mount Holyoke’s Pangy Day (a celebration of spring, the college and the Earth), the masks were collaboratively painted by students. These two “Spirits of Sustainability” will be used for future college events and celebrations.

Jay’s visits were sponsored by the Miller Worley Center for the Environment, with additional support from the departments of geology and geography, environmental studies, architectural studies and art, as well as the Office of Student Programs and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.

More Reporting

From Mount Holyoke by Keely Savoie: “Re-imagining sustainability as art”

From Earth Day Network’s MobilizeU campaign, an international movement of concerned and active university students mobilizing their campuses

The Tree Artist: A Tribute to an Oldest Friend

Thursday, September 5th, 2013
Jay Mead and Peter Heller

Jay Mead and Peter Heller

I am pleased to share these written reflections on my SculptureFest piece, “The Forest Within,” by friend and author Peter Heller. A former Upper Valley resident, Peter wrote the bestselling novel The Dog Stars in 2012. – Jay

The Tree Artist
Jay Mead at SculptureFest
A Tribute to an Oldest Friend

Take a beat up old farm shed. Prop it up, true the posts, re-roof it. Give it back its humble life. Then reach for the medium you have loved since you were a kid: trees.

Trees are everything to you. You grew up on a tree farm in New Hampshire. You tapped trees to make syrup as a teenager, cut and bucked and split them for firewood. You walked and skied among them for inspiration and solace in high school. And after you moved to the Bay Area you went to the sequoias and redwoods whenever you could. The giants were your cathedral. Those forests did something to the light and the air that changed the way you saw yourself in the world. When you lost two younger sisters and a father that is where you prayed, and when you had children of your own it is where you gave thanks. They gave you back your smallness, which every person needs. Your awe. Your oxygen. They rooted you to your life and reminded you that those that walk and sway on earth are myriad, are your brothers and sisters, and that we are entrusted with certain souls.

The Forest Within

The Forest Within

In San Francisco, your first big installation was a giant redwood stump, the kind they used to drive cars through, erected in the middle of the city and built of discarded redwood lumber. I helped you build it. Remember? The crowds that stopped, the mouths that fell open? It was a sensation, an organic monument to nature and loss.

So, trees. Back here in Vermont you cut twenty saplings—the field edge needed to be cut back–and you painted them white and planted them inside the dark shed on a ground of soft red mulch. The old pavilion suddenly looked like it would burst its seams with pride. Because it was now a shadow box that held a forest. A ghost forest. A forest of birch at night, or aspen. It was a little church, and inside danced the rows of slender luminous trees, and it was sepulcher also, and the forest was skeletal, a photographic negative of the living world, of what it may become. You called it The Forest Within. And you planted it on the King Farm* where we can all see it and wonder why it resonates with some green thing that moves inside, that sways against our own bones.

* King Farm is in Woodstock, Vermont and hosts the annual SculptureFest.

When the Moon Came to Earth – New Video

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Enjoy this time-lapse video produced by Colleen Bozuwa of my “When the Moon Came to Earth” installation at King Farm in Woodstock, Vermont.  Thanks, Colleen!

Also, Marie Kirn of Hartland, Vermont gave my piece a kind endorsement, saying it is “striking and moving” in this broadcast of Vermont Public Radio’s En Plein Air. Listen to the short segment.

When the Moon Came to Earth – Installed

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

When the Moon Came to Earth, detail

This is my latest piece “When the Moon Came to Earth.” Each disc is made of saplings and measures 10′ in diameter.  It’s installed at King Farm, which is an extension of Sculpture Fest.

The opening is at King Farm on Saturday, September 1st from 4-7pm.  The theme this year is “Poetry on the Land.”  At 5:15pm, Bonnie Gale will do a presentation on “Living Willow Sculpture” at the Prosper Road location. Bring your own picnic.  Then, Barnarts will present the play “Eleemoysynary” in the Barn at King Farm at 7pm. Buy tickets for the performance here. More information on Sculpture Fest is available here.