Gathering Clouds: weather as material in contemporary art

Currently in research

Proposed for The Smith Gallery at Appalachian State University, for Fall 2018, with the goal of traveling the show to additional venue(s) in 2019/2020. 


Gathering Clouds will take form through a swirling gust of interrelated programs that center around an exhibition that brings together a range of art works in which artists use weather data and observation as a key component of their creative practice.

For its first incarnation at the Smith Gallery, the exhibition component of the project will have an open structure with a physical installation at the gallery that evolves over the course of the project. A set of works made by established local, national and international artists in a broad range of media will be installed early on to offer various approaches to working with weather phenomenon. These anchor works will include artist made instruments for collecting and observing the weather, along with a range of media objects created to translate and respond to weather conditions. As a group these works present different strategies for paying attention to ephemeral experience and methods for data visualization. When shown together, these works will also represent an alternative archive for place specific weather events. Many of the works included in Gathering Clouds, make use of social media and the clouds of human made digital data that surrounds us, reflecting a growing cultural interest in drawing direct connections between the natural atmosphere and information atmosphere.

Anchor works may come from the following artists: Nathalie Miebach (Boston, MA) Heidi Nielson (Queens, NY), The SP Weatherstation (Queens, NY), Andrea Polli (Albuquerque, NM ), Quintron (New Orleans,LA)  Heather Gordon (Durham, NC), Mark Nystrom (Boone, NC), David Bowen (Duluth, MN), Stephen Cartwright (Urbana-Champaign, IL), Tim Knowles (London, UK), Karolina Sobecka and Chris Jordan (San Diego, CA), Claire Malrieux (Paris, France), and Allard Van Hoorn (Brooklyn, NY).

By design, the initial installation of anchor works will serve a traditional exhibition function of establishing a common ground and drawing together a series of themes for inquiry. They will also provide a framework for the creation and installation of another set of creative expressions to be realized by various kinds of university groups: classes, clubs, and individual faculty members.  Materials from class projects created in relation to the works and ideas that inform Gathering Clouds will be integrated directly into the exhibition and through events, manifesting irregularly throughout the project according to the various timelines and interests of course instructors and through direct gallery support.

Based on past success working with faculty, I plan to develop two to three class based projects in support of the art department’s curricular goals, and will seek out partnerships particularly with foundations instructors in studio arts, instructors teaching information design in the Graphic Design program, and faculty in Art Education. Using the working methods I established through High Country Spring Procession, Joel Tauber: The Sharing Project, and Climate Stories I plan to offer project design support, to providing resources and to guide their production as necessary.

In keeping with the Smith Gallery’s goal of building its capacity as a teaching gallery for the College of Fine and Applied Arts and for the university at large, I plan to support the realization of up to two more class based projects from across the university. A range of curricula would be well supported by this project. For direct production and involvement-- I am exploring partnerships with FAA faculty in Sustainable Development and Communications, and beyond that I plan to look to faculty in the departments of English, Dance and Music. To support additional courses at the university, I will prepare a basic teaching guide to the exhibition to facilitate self guided exploration and meet with classes in the gallery for discussion based learning as time allows. Based on previous experience, I anticipate serving an additional five to ten classes in this way.

Along with the presentation and creation of works for the exhibition, this project will involve a set of three to five events that draw on university and regional expertise. This may include a visit to local weather station, different forms of presentations related to local and global weather systems, and performances by local music or dance ensembles based on interpretations of work included in the exhibition or local weather events.  This programming will be driven by faculty research and interests, and will involve faculty with a direct interest in meteorology and weather observation, like those associated with AppalAir and Candoo; It will also develop new local and regional partnerships through connections with the local meteorology service, Ray’s Weather, The World Data Center for Meteorology in Asheville, and the As.If Center (near Spruce Pine).

As funding is available I will include a small scale, 2-4week, commission by a visiting artist to produce a project in collaboration with a class or interdisciplinary student group. I am currently considering a project with Nathalie Miebach or Heidi Nielson for the depth of their experience with participatory student projects. Ultimately the artist chosen for this would be selected by the department through which they would be most directly working, and they would be supported by the gallery throughout their residency. As part of their project we may use the exhibition space and gallery as an activity or presentation hub, or determine that the work would primarily exist at a satellite location.