The Barn Illumination Project is a traveling installation and designed as a tool for community dialog.
The project was first conceived on my daily commute to Western Washington University where I was studying public art and urban planning. My drive took me from my house in rural Whatcom County through a country side dotted by huge barns many of which were in serious need of stabilzing. In my short time in the county I saw a number of old barns succumb to the elements, swaying and finally kneeling to one side before being pulled down by tractors.
At the same time the county was in the height of the real-estate boom and many land owners were sub-dividing their lots to build residential housing developments. I could see the landscape transforming before my eyes.
I decided to address these changes with a public art installation that allowed for a viewer driven conversation about the landscape and the community’s changing identity from agricultural to residential.
My work on this topic is personal.
About 7 years ago I experienced a life altering connection to a piece of land. I had no idea that a “place” could have such a sweeping and all encompassing effect on my life and my dreams for the future. This experience, which I was totally unprepared for, started me down a path of discovering more about the importance of place in our daily lives.
If there is any message in my work, it is simply that place is important.
The Barn Illumination Project is a community arts event that creates a setting for local residents to engage in a conversation about “place” and its relevance in our daily lives. I accomplish this by taking dilapidated barns or industrial buildings and lighting them from within, with high wattage lights. The result is a charismatic glowing structure unlike the building seen in daylight. By abstracting such buildings and highlighting their sculptural qualities it allows people to see them for more than their lost utility.
Most importantly, the significance of the project is determined by those in attendance.
This project brings the installation to the community. Audiences find that the art is literally in their back yards. This event creates a venue for community members to discuss the past, present and future of the landscape around them, and explore personal and geographical identity expressed through the built environment.
The Geissinger barn was identified as a potential site when I received a Site-Specific Grant from 4culture. 4culture had been involved in providing a grant to stabilize the depression era barn a few years prior, and knew the land owner might be interested in hosting the project.
This event hosted by Laurie Geissinger, opening night is April 1st 7:30pm-10pm – the property is not open to the public after the opening, the project can be viewed from the fence line along Wax Orchard Rd. The entrance for the reception is also along Wax Orchard Road, at the edge of the pasture. We plan to mark the entrance with signage and lights of some kind.
I want to extend a special invitation to the artists and photographers of Vashon to please come and help document the installation. I want feedback, both verbal and visual. If the response is good we may put together a group show of all the art inspired by the project. Participants can share via the project facebook page. facebook.com/thebarnilluminationproject.
Ann Durant is an Interdisciplinary Artist living and working in Seattle. Her work deals primarily with place and identity as it relates to our built environment.