26 JANUARY - 2 MARCH 1996
Michael Shaughnessy’s site specific installation An Caoin Ardaigh (Gaellic for The Gentle Rise) is on view at the Rice Art Gallery through April 13, 1996. As an artist-in-residence, Shaughnessy worked with over forty Rice students and members of the community to construct an intricate wooden framework, that was then strung with baling twine to form a giant loom. Using a traditional method of weaving, Shaughnessy and the volunteers wove hay over the entire surface, creating a monumental structure that redefines the gallery space. Also on view are a video about Shaughnessy’s working processes and an interactive computer display.
“An Caoin Ardaigh was built in response to the space of the gallery and my personal vision regarding form and place,” says Shaughnessy. “The sense of presence is my overwhelming concern.” It is meant to be powerful without being overwhelming, in repose, quietly embracing.
Shaughnessy’s use of hay as a medium springs, in part, from its capacity to evoke powerful associations with food, bedding and shelter. His works also draw from his family heritage: for three generations, his mother’s forebears were farmers, while his father’s were architects. The notions of reuse and regeneration are integral to Shaughnessy’s working processes and philosophy, and are inherent in the work itself. The structural elements get reused in other projects and the hay is used for feed or mulch.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Michael Shaughnessy lives in South Windham, Maine, with his wife and four sons. He has created numerous works for museums and galleries, including the Portland Museum of Art (Maine), the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (North Carolina), Exit Art (New York City) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago). An Caoin Ardaigh is Shaughnessy’s first project in the Southwest.