Waves in the Woods: Orly Genger at The deCordova
Last Saturday, a group of friends gathered at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum to celebrate a birthday and our friendship of more than twenty years. We also came to see Orly Genger’s installation, Red, Yellow, and Blue, a monumental work comprised of one million feet of rope and 3,500 gallons of paint. The hand-knotted, paint-covered rope, configured in bright, undulating walls of red, yellow, and blue, wind through deCordova’s 30-acre lawn, pathways, and hillsides.
Upon reaching the summit of a hill and being confronted with the installation for the first time, we were startled — forced to confront the incongruity of waves in the woods. All of our senses were at attention. There were undulating massive nets of red and yellow grouping trees together. The trees, poor things, looked diminished, their autonomy compromised. The entire installation just didn’t set right. It was an invasion of color too vivid for a dead March day near Walden’s tranquil woods.
But then the installation’s fluidity, like a field of sunflowers waving on a hill, emerged. Enamored and delighted, the colors regenerated, re-wrapped our hearts. I found my initial reaction fading into curiosity. What was it about? Why did the artist select these elements, these textures? Why reframe nature and the experience of being in nature? And then finally, after beholding it in silence for a while, why did the experience make me feel more expansive, more whole, maybe even more healed and engaged?
In discussing her installation Genger said, “I wanted to create a work that would impress in scale but still engage rather than intimidate.” And I think she accomplished that. The surrounding sights and sounds in nature — the accompaniment of the chirping dialogue of birds, sopranos and baritones, short and long — made Red, Yellow, and Blue an active-reactive experience.
Art is a vital connector, leading us through experience and helping us move from isolated observer to actor to creator. It puts tools, images, sensations back in our core, so we can transform ourselves and our world. It isn’t just the steady Walden-like walk and observation of nature we need, we need the added energy of art, the example of art, the mentoring of art to open us up to what we can do, to how we can transform the world, to heal nature and ourselves.
Genger demonstrated how we as humans can create products that do not diminish nature, but amplify it. Instead of trying to envelop or enhance nature, she created more visual energy and joy in the world, to refresh our minds, and to have us ask questions (not answers) about how we can be in nature and be better stewards.
The deCordova will display Red, Yellow, and Blue until September 1, 2014. Check it out and see how it engages your spirit.
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