Alright, Design and Build week two… it’s like when you realize you’re addicted to the coffee shop. By the standards of some, you might be spending a little bit too much money there, but you have no desire, rhyme, or reason to stop going every, single, morning. You’re officially best friends with that barista and you guys have plans to go thrifting next weekend. Yeah. It’s that awesome.
This week we started understanding the space and Jen’s vision, realizing our challenges and difficulties, and setting goals. Before we looked at the long-term goals, Jen wanted to make sure that we understood the types of materials that we would be working with, so she showed us some samples of what she was roughly looking for and threw us into the studio with a conglomeration of tools and materials, and basically just told us to have at it. The studio was full of life. Everyone flowed really well together, and we began to understand who worked well together and who flourished on their own. Everyone was in the zone, it was awesome. Afterwards we had a big, what Jen calls, “round table” meeting where we shared our techniques, and brainstormed the use for specific materials in the installation. Since most of us graduated last semester, or have at least been on summer break since May, I think we were all just really excited to be creating again.
When it came to more dialed-in projects, Jen played to each and all of our personal strengths, giving us all tasks that were in our range of expertise. Jen really looks at our group as a wealth of knowledge and creativity, and she really is putting in a heavy effort to make sure to use that as an advantage not only to herself, but to the production of Natura Obscura. For example, one of the largest struggles of this production is the time frame. Jen has us, the Design and Build team, for eight weeks this summer, and instal doesn’t start until November, so a lot of our creation has to be put in storage until then, thus it is critical that we take preemptive measures to document installation notes for the installation team, because we might not be around if they have questions about how things are to be installed. Alex and Tracy have a ton of experience in set and lighting design, so Alex was tasked with creating a digital map of the museum and integrating a labeling system for the install team, while Tracy was tasked with the construction of the main wall panels, the bones of Natura Obscura. Justin is an amazing illustrator and sculptor, so he was tasked with the creation of the spirits of the forest, allowing the visual manifestation of the spirits to help viewers connect with the different elements of the forest in a deeper way, on a more personal level. Daniel is a phenomenal illustrator as well, so he was elected to design the Mother Nature entity that will welcome visitors when they enter the forest. Andrew makes these whimsical 3-D animal painting/sculptures out of recycled materials, so he was immediately assigned to create a mother owl and her babies to live amongst the other creatures of the forest. Silas is our big digital secret weapon, so Jen instantly got him on all things projection and video. Stephanie and Lauren are just all around rockstars, so they’ve been working on floor treatments and figuring out the most majical yet practical technique for creating leaves. Alex, since there’s two we call her Eggs, a cute nickname based on her last name, and I have experience with mold making and interest in crystals, we were put on crystal duty, so we’ve been working on growing and casting crystals to encrust the forest with sparkle and shine. I was also tasked with writing this little nugget of a blog. 🙂
Mid week, everyone was helping everyone and progress was being made, everything was going swimmingly, just peachy, until about Thursday… sparknotes version- Silas broke his ankle, we realized our respirators didn’t have the right filters, and we got the wrong type of wood at Home Depot. You know how when things go wrong, people blame it on the stars? The whole Mercury is in retrograde thing? Maybe that’s because we’re more impacted by the other creations, planets, and stars in our vast universe than we actually know, and maybe it’s because humans like to alleviate their sorrows by placing blame elsewhere. Who knows, but it was the summer solstice, thus the longest day of the year, that Thursday, I’m just sayin.
Honestly though, the worst part of Thursday was seeing Jen get stressed out so early on in the project. She kept it together beautifully, but nobody, and I mean nobody, can go to Home Depot more than three times in one day and not want to pull their hair out, just a little. Lauren, being the sweet sole that she is, suggested that we meet Jen outside to help unload the right wood inside, and that someone put on the infamous yeti costume to cheer her up. Well, we found her whole costume stash and she was greeted by a yeti, a cow, a zebra, a cat, a gorilla, a wolf, a viking, and a rockstar with a balloon animal… yeah idk either but it was awesome and we put a smile back on her face and that’s all that we really cared about.
Finally, we got back on the grind and back on track. By Friday, I kind of felt like I’ve been going to that bomb coffee shop since the beginning of time. Like that coffee shop, our internship is addicting. I think all of us go home and think, work, and research to make Natura Obscura more involved and developed than it was the day before. It’s the end of week two and everyone’s’ noggins are EXPLODING with ideas. The key here is to stay on track and prolific enough to fulfill our roles within the group, and ensure that we’re being the most helpful in the creation of the forest.