At The Avenue Concept, we’re just coming off a brief hiatus from our blog, a time we used to focus on recapping what we’ve learned in 2015 and outlining our goals for 2016.
During this time, we also crafted a new mission statement, which we feel succinctly encapsulates what we want to do and why:
Public art has the power to educate, inspire, and enhance people’s lives. We are dedicated to empowering artists and communities by creating avenues for dialogue and connection through sustainable public art.
Now that the new year is here, I’m personally excited to get back to highlighting the artists who are helping The Avenue Concept fulfill our mission—and we kick off 2016 with an INFLUX artist who embodies this effort.
Artist Profile: Gillian Christy
Gillian Christy is an award-winning, full-time sculptor based in Boston, Massachusetts. Born in Iowa, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Northern Iowa before moving to New England via Providence in 2003. Gillian has received grants from regional arts organizations including the New England Foundation for the Arts, Rhode Island State Council for the Arts, and The Rhode Island Foundation.
With a focus on creating sculpture in the public realm, Gillian says, “I enjoy creating artwork for the public because it can speak to such a large number of people, and it doesn’t require a museum entrance fee or going inside a gallery. It’s just there to bring a little pleasure to your day… and hopefully start a conversation.”
INFLUX project: Wheels With Wings
Gillian’s INFLUX project is a pedestrian-scaled sculpture entitled “Wheels With Wings,” located on the corner of Fountain and Dorrance streets. “It’s a playful approach to creating something imaginary. These wheels with wings are like little beams moving around the sculpture. I like the idea of them following this track and playfully going around and around the sculpture,” Gillian explains.
The main body of the sculpture is made of stainless steel sheets that Gillian has welded together to form an industrial vent shape sitting atop a rocking chair bottom, which Gillian notes, “It’s from my imagination. It doesn’t exist in reality, but through invention, adds to the playful nature of the work.”
The surface is finished with a sandblasted effect that Gillian uses to help capture the sunlight and enhance the feeling of movement in the work—“In the bright sun it has a way of just glowing,” she adds.
Creating connections—tracks, pathways, and avenues
An important theme running through much of Gillian’s work, including “Wheels With Wings,” is the idea of connectors—things that connect all of us to a larger community. “A lot of my work involves pathways, which you can see here in the sandblasted shadow pathway effect or the tracks that serve as a pathway. I think these connectors are interesting things in the built environment like sidewalks, fences, stairways… They are shared by all of us, and they’re so iconic, but they’re just utilized by everyone,” explains Gillian.
Here at The Avenue, we’re also fascinated by the idea of connectors. Not surprisingly, we think of them as avenues.
When asked about how she hopes people will respond to “Wheels With Wings,” Gillian says, “My hope is that children will really respond to it… that they might want to walk around it, follow the track, and wonder what these things are and let their imagination go.”
In addition, she hopes the work will give people a feeling of civic pride like, “‘Oh, this is why I live in this city. I get to see this and enjoy public art,’” she says. “I think that [public art] can really be a great program for cities and main streets all over.”