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This past weekend I exhibited my first installation piece, The Rending. It is a combination of video and interactive sculpture elements. I would like to thank Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the staff there for allowing me the chance to exhibit, and for the ample help and support in setting up the installation. The Rending was exhibited October 19, 20 and 21, 2014, in conjunction with Graduate Open Studios.

The centerpiece of The Rending is the video, which I could not have produced without the filming and technical help of my friend Michael Grasso. Thank you for your patience and assistance! Also, there would be no star without Julianne Kelley, who did an amazing job getting into character.

The Rending starts before you enter the installation, with the request to remove your shoes. Once the viewer removes their shoes, they pull aside a pink silk curtain to reveal a semi-darkened room, with the video projected onto the far wall.

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IMG_4231IMG_4194As the viewer steps inside, they are stepping over 14,000 rose petals that are covering the ground. The scent of fresh roses permeates the room. The viewer may watch the video standing or choose to sit on the cushions placed in the center of the room, covered with a pink and gold tapestry cloth. If the viewer looks up, they are confronted with their own image surrounded by rose petals, reflected in a rectangular, gold-framed mirror. The mirror hangs at approximately nine feet above the ground by four gold chains. The audio of the film, with a soft, siren-like voices, also lulls the viewer and allows them to step into a dream like state.

The Rending has a reflective mood that is meant to be experienced by one or two people at a time. The video plays on loop, which allows for the viewer to watch it a few times if they choose.

This was my first time exhibiting an installation, and it was a very positive experience! I thought Graduate Open Studios would be the perfect time to test the idea on strangers who had no prior contact to my work. I stayed close to the exhibit during the times The Rending was open, working on a painting, but paying attention to how people responded and how I felt working in this medium. In a way it is more instant-gratification, like theatre. You immediately get a response from viewers, and engage them more directly by encouraging participation with your art. My favorite part was seeing people’s faces as they emerged from the installation. A lot of people seemed happy and uplifted, and a few told me they were really touched. Everyone had a unique response. I also enjoyed hearing people inside the room as they responded to seeing the thousands of petals, and to different parts of the film.

Julianne Kelley, star of The Rending, enters the installation

Julianne Kelley, star of The Rending, enters the installation

Mary McCann in the installation

Mary McCann in the installation

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I want to thank everyone who came out to see The Rending, and for my fellow students and professors who made this such a great experience for me by participating in and supporting this venture. I hope to do more in the near future, as an extension of my paintings and drawings.

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