I guess when you look at the really big picture (the one that has a billion-year timeline), all art is fragile and subject to decay, and therefore temporary. But the whole concept of intentionally temporary art is very intriguing to me. My first experience with it was many years ago when I went to a museum to see Tibetan Buddhist monks creating a sand mandala. They spent several weeks meditatively “painting” this huge spiritual circle with colored sand – slowly and carefully – and then when it was finished (and it was so gorgeous!), they destroyed it and moved on. A great Buddhist lesson in non-attachment and impermanence, I guess.
The photo at the top is part of the hiking trail at the NC Museum of Art park and when you walked along this path, you would come to this huge sculpture called “To See Jennie Smile” by Steven Siegel.
Not sure what the name means, but this thing always made me smile. For one, when you’d glimpse it from a distance through the woods, it looked like some kind of enormous beehive. And also, my nephews went wild the first time they saw it – they loved it too. It’s just a very cool sight, and we visited it many times.
The sculpture was made of several tons of newspaper (the Raleigh News and Observer, to be specific, a paper I used to subscribe to before the Internet came along). The boys loved the fact that when you got close, you could still read some text on the paper. Here are the boys checking it out~
Installed in the Museum Park in 2006, the sculpture was intentionally temporary since of course, paper left out in the elements is going to rot. I love the playfulness of putting it in the woods surrounded by trees, since paper comes from trees, and I love the whole concept of giving the wood pulp back to Mother Nature.
Even though I knew it was temporary, I imagined that it would slowly sink and rot away, and I didn’t expect it to be quite so short-lived. But last week, they had to demolish it because it had started to lean and had become too dangerous. The museum posted photos of the demolition on their Flickr site. I’m going to miss it!