PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A glance at the Front Green last week would have revealed a curious site. Scattered on the grass were more than 50 wooden pallets, each piled high with red and blue rope. But as the days ticked by, they slowly started to disappear, their contents taking another form nearby.
That form is the latest site-specific installation by New York artist and 2001 Brown graduate Orly Genger.
Her piece, titled YOU, was commissioned as part of Brown’s 250th anniversary celebration. Once completed, the U-shaped structure will reside on the east side of the Front Green, to the right as viewers enter at the Van Wickle Gates. It will wrap around a tree at its highest point, and slowly decrease in height toward its open end.
This is the first piece Genger has exhibited at Brown since graduating.
“Brown is where I decided that I would pursue being an artist, so being able to come back and have my work there is really exciting for me,” Genger said.
Genger’s site-specific pieces made of woven recycled lobster rope and paint have been featured around the country, including in New York City’s Madison Square Park and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. In addition, Genger works in cast sculpture, drawing, performance art, and jewelry.
Genger’s installations begin in her Brooklyn studio, where she and assistants hand-weave the rope into long sections 18 inches wide that are assembled on site to create the final product. Steel rods threaded into metal plates on the ground anchor the rope and hold it in place. Once all the rope has been secured, the sculpture is spray-painted.
YOU will have a steel-gray hue in its finished form, a nod to the ubiquitous color of the minimal sculptures that inspired the piece.
In addition to the color, the U-shape of YOU and its title were also “a direct response to the I-shape of a monolith,” according to Genger. “Many large-scale sculptures are a reference to that shape and YOU is trying to do the opposite of that in a very literal sense.”
Genger hopes that visitors will view the completed work as a functional piece.
“In building this U-shape into the Green, I hope to create an area for people to walk into. I’ve been interested in the idea of space having a physical nature to it so that people can feel like they’re actually being held by this space.”
Set to be completed by Nov. 12 and reside at Brown until the summer, YOU is the latest addition to Brown’s public art on campus.
Jo-Ann Conklin, director of the David Winton Bell Gallery and a member of Brown’s Public Art Committee, said that Genger’s status as an alumna and an accomplished artist made her a natural fit to create Brown’s next piece.
“Orly is an artist who has been getting a lot of attention for her work and someone that we’ve wanted to bring to Brown for a while now,” Conklin said. “I think this is going to be a spectacular piece that the Brown community will use and enjoy while it’s here.”
More can be learned about Genger’s work and YOU at an opening reception on Friday, Nov. 21. At 5:30 p.m. she will have a conversation with Bell Gallery curator Alexis Lowry Murray in List Center Auditorium, 64 College St. A reception will take place on the Front Green next to YOU at 6:30 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.