Cairns and Spheres Projects by John Brandhorst
BACK TO ONSITE/INSIGHT
There are multiple aspects to this series of visits between Grady and Carver High Schools. These events are part of the overarching project called “On Site/Insight Project” funded by the McCarthy/Dressman Foundation. In the Fall semester of 2007, Grady and Carver, and M. Agnes Jones Elementary School collaborated on a series of visits to the High Museum to view the permanent collection. High School students were immersed in the collection, its general history, and methods of communicating the importance and appreciation of the collection to the elementary school students. It was an unprecedented partnership that resulted in a unforgettable new relationships and experiences. This new set of interactions stems directly from the High Museum portion of this project.
The Cairn is an evolution from the sculpture called “Endless Column” by Constantin Brancusi. In the Stent Atrium of the High Museum there is a rendition of this sculpture that quietly and humbly serves as a plant stand. Amidst the other more formally presented works in the museum, this pieces stands out in its austerity and permanence. It has been there for years as the rest of the collection has changed out many times. At Grady, there is a trend to produce a series of cairns around the campus as a metaphor for “wayfinding in the wilderness”. The first cairn at Grady was modeled over the course of three years, with different groups of students in collaboration with the teacher John Brandhorst, and the teaching artist Jeff Mather. Cairn #1 is based on the more naturalistic works of Andy Goldsworthy, Athena Tacha, and other site sculptors. Cairn #2, the Grady/Carver cairn as mentioned above, will take part of our High Museum experience and memorialize it on BOTH the Grady and Carver campuses. We are producing matching sculptures in collaborative production. These cairns will be identical in design and fabrication and will align with each other across the distance between the two schools and with the original cairn at Grady. This type of alignment is originated in other ancient cairn and earth structures such as Stonehenge in England, the Nazca Lines in Peru, and the cave marking of the Anasazi in the American desert south west. We will always be able to look in the direction of our partner school for the next generations.
The spheres are related to the sculpture “Comet Over Acid Hill” by Crotty that hangs in the contemporary gallery in the High. It is a real anomaly in the collection and probably garnered some of the strongest reactions. The sphere is one of the simplest, and most compelling shapes in nature and will serve as an antidote to the hard geometry of the cairn. The spheres that we are creating will be part of a larger push to create spheres across the city for collection, manipulation, and performance at the M. Agnes Jones Invitational art show in April. The goal is to have all the schools in APS make a sphere, or two, or ten, and contribute then to what will be a great collaborative, portable, site-based sculpture at the show. Students at Jones will be creating dance performances that utilize the spheres, other students may find novel ways to present, stack, play with, make music with, or manipulate the spheres as a unifying function of the exhibition. The school made spheres are a simple thing for all levels to create and will allow an even-handed all inclusive way for the maximum number school communities to be involved.
This type of collaboration between schools is rare. Typically schools meet to compete, to determine a winner and a loser. It is one of the aims of this project to remind the school communities that we are after the same things; truth, teamwork, beauty, participation; and that it is through the arts that a stronger sense of contemporary community and historical continuity may be achieved most strongly. The arts allow for arching connections between far flung concepts and cultures to be made visible to all ages and in universal terms. Perhaps it is through the arts that the schools can continue to enrich, to engage, and to enhance the learning process so that all the academic fields can enjoy greater excitement and achievement.
Materials for mixing concrete:
50 bags quickrete
10 mixing bins
10 5 gallon buckets
1 box dust masks
6 2’ lengths of 6” diameter sonotube
20 10’ sticks rebar
wire, black anodized baling wire
10 spherical balloons, balls, or globes of varying size
phone books, old textbooks
scissors, arm paper cutter
5 gallon bucket wallpaper paste
Plastic classroom bins
Water, soft drinks, snack bars
Time capsule sheets
Copies of proposal drawing
Copies of High Museum Stent inspiration
Copies of “Endless Column” image
Copies of “Comet over Acid Hill” image
Copies of Sphere tear sheets from various magazines