A site specific sculpture made in collaboration with Frank Weeks
The Mirman Experience: Fiat Lux, 2013, was suspended by cables from the ceiling of the northeast corner of the McDaniel Library/Annenberg Center for Communications on the campus of the Mirman School.
The roughly five-foot-diameter sculpture traces the shape of the physical space defined by moving a 16-inch-tall, double-sided child’s profile through a nearly complete (albeit somewhat meandering) circular path to form a “C” shape. A spherical “school” light hangs in the center of this circular form. The “eye” portion of the profile is made of transparent Plexiglass, allowing for light to shine through.
The sculpture is constructed out of layers of synthetic felt, plywood, Plexiglass and natural longhaired sheep’s skin.
The Mirman Experience: Fiat Lux is, among other things, a portrait of a child, a mathematical model, a geological formation, a heavenly object, a caterpillar and egg, and an optical illusion.
The bulk of the sculpture is comprised of sandwiched layers of laser-cut synthetic felt.
The eye portion of the profile is made out three layers of Plexiglas. The top and bottom (iris) layers are green, and the middle (pupil) layer is transparent, allowing light to shine from the inside of the sculpture outward and vice versa. Besides the school light, the piece has its own internal, high-intensity LED lighting system, heightening the appearance of both the eye layer’s transparency and the appearance of light passing through the sculpture.
The lip portion of the profile is composed of burgundy-painted plywood.
Black wooly sheep’s skin serves as the “hair” portion of the sculpture.
A 1970s-era school globe light, hung at the center of the form, shines light out through the eye portion of the profile – and down upon readers, as well.
This piece was conceived in response to criterion delineated by Mirman School’s Headmaster, John Thomas West III.
The sculpture represents a child moving through time and facing outward toward all points of the compass – expressing an omnivorous appetite for learning and the absorption of knowledge via the act of critical observation. A motif of voracious and unbiased knowledge processing is further reinforced by the visibly soft, absorbent and receptive appearance of the sculpture’s felt physiognomy and the transparent “eye” layer’s role as not only the seeing organ - but a transmitter of light/wisdom/knowledge.
The technological gradient represented by this sculpture’s materials: spanning from raw wool (something an early homo sapiens would likely recognize) and wood - to felt (traditionally mildly processed wool) - to highly synthetic Plexiglass, serves as an object lesson in the integration of disciplines, as does the palpable synthesis of art and complex computer modeling demonstrated by the piece’s very construction. The piece was largely designed using CATIA, an app more commonly employed for complex architectural, automotive and aviation design.
The eye and mouth elements of the child’s face represented in The Mirman Experience: Fiat Lux have special prominence as archetypical symbols of the sending and receiving of information – just as the light-transmitting pupil of the eye element conveys the idea of a continuous process of give and take - the essence of communication.
The tactile softness and permeability of the felt further emphasizes the way that a child is a sensitive and highly absorbent being - a person for whom nearly all things are “felt.”
The face/object represented by The Mirman Experience: Fiat Lux not only looks outward, it looks inward, examining itself and the light that illuminates it – symbolically engaging in both self-reflection and the development of internal inspiration.