Curatorial Assistant, Ashley Powell on Michelle Samour’s Installation

Posted April 14, 2011 in Blog

A couple of weeks ago Anna Walker, Curator, and I had the fantastic opportunity to assist artist Michelle Samour in the installation of her show, Truth and Transience, which is now up in the small gallery through May 15, 2011. Getting to know the artists, being able to watch them work and becoming a part of the creative process is always an awesome experience and working with Samour was no exception.

The show includes two wall installations, with the walls covered in hand-made pigmented abaca paper circles that have designs meticulously painted in gouache. In the middle of the gallery is a 10 by 3 ½ foot light box that glows.

Curator, Anna Walker, installing Michelle Samour's Eyes of God: Conversations about Science and Faith

The piece, Eyes of God: Conversations about Science and Faith, was the first piece of the exhibition to go up. Samour brought a template the size and shape of the space she wanted to fill with her abaca circles. This template, which you can see in the picture above, was taped on the gallery wall and provided the exact area for her abaca circles. The oval shape resembles a giant open eye similar to the Eye of Providence (or the all-seeing eye of God) found on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States, which also appears on the Unites State’s one-dollar bill.

Anna Walker and Curatorial Assistant, Ashley Powell, arranging the abaca circles of Michelle Samour's Eyes of God: Conversations about Science and Faith.

Afterwards, the template was brought down and stretched across six eight-foot tables. All of the beautiful, vibrant and translucent abaca circles were then taken out and arranged onto the paper template. To help arrange the circles the template was divided into four quadrants. We used blown up photographs of a previous installation as our guide and worked one quadrant at a time, leaning and stretching across the tables to deposit the circles of paper onto the template. It quickly became an amusing puzzle of trying to replicate the arrangement in the photos. All the while, we noticed the patterns Samour had created with the specific placement of the various colors and sizes of circles.

The artist installing the pieces she made for the exhibition.

Once we had all of the abaca circles in their place on the table, it was time for us to hand them to Samour, one by one, as she stood on a ladder and recreated the piece on the wall. She would sporadically stop to improvise and switch the order of the pieces or slightly alter their placement. We started handing her the circles from the very center of the 4 quadrants and gradually worked our way out one circular layer at a time. The further along we got, the more interesting the installation became visually. As the individual pieces were viewed collectively on the wall, they start creating a three dimensional optical illusion. The entire form started to take shape. Once we were done, there was an excellent sense of accomplishment. I was thrilled to have been able to participate and to have the up close and personal vantage point to view how Michelle Samour works. Stop by HCCC to see the finished installation, the exhibit is open through May 15!

Ashley Powell, Curatorial Assistant