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Art installation transforms studio ceiling

Posted on May 19, 2022

Updated on May 22, 2022

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Artist Matt McConnell speaks about his new permanent art installation, “Forest Wind,” at the Wilson Arts Center on May 12.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Artist Matt McConnell speaks about his new permanent art installation, “Forest Wind,” at the Wilson Arts Center on May 12.

Artist Matt McConnell speaks about his permanent art installation, “Forest Wind,” made possible by Wilson Arts partner Josephine M. Brown, during a May 12 reception at the Wilson Arts Center.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Artist Matt McConnell speaks about his permanent art installation, “Forest Wind,” made possible by Wilson Arts partner Josephine M. Brown, during a May 12 reception at the Wilson Arts Center.

Artist Matt McConnell speaks about his new permanent art installation, “Forest Wind,” at the Wilson Arts Center on May 12.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Artist Matt McConnell speaks about his new permanent art installation, “Forest Wind,” at the Wilson Arts Center on May 12.

Artist Matt McConnell speaks about his permanent art installation, “Forest Wind,” made possible by Wilson Arts partner Josephine M. Brown, during a May 12 reception at the Wilson Arts Center.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Artist Matt McConnell speaks about his permanent art installation, “Forest Wind,” made possible by Wilson Arts partner Josephine M. Brown, during a May 12 reception at the Wilson Arts Center.

Artist Matt McConnell speaks about his permanent art installation, “Forest Wind,” made possible by Wilson Arts partner Josephine M. Brown, during a May 12 reception at the Wilson Arts Center.
Artist Matt McConnell speaks about his new permanent art installation, “Forest Wind,” at the Wilson Arts Center on May 12.

dwilson@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7818

The artist behind a new permanent art installation at the Wilson Arts Center said he wanted “to create motion and form in a way that you could experience it but not be overwhelmed by it.”

Matt McConnell, a Raleigh-based artist whose work is known around the world, spoke to a small gathering of arts supporters underneath his colorful undulating, fiber-optic and wood creation on May 12.

Titled “Forest Wind,” the piece is mounted on one wall and across the ceiling at the new Wilson Arts Center at 204 Nash St. S. in downtown Wilson.

The piece was manufactured after extensive consultations between McConnell, Wilson Arts Executive Director Cathy Hardison and longtime arts supporter Josephine M. Brown.

Brown commissioned the piece and paid the full cost for its creation.

“I hope that you are proud of what we have accomplished here. I know that I am,” Hardison told visitors during an opening reception. “It is a brand-new arts center, and we are continuing to improve it with wonderful artwork transformations such as these and hopefully one day continue to expand and renovate the remaining 8,000 square feet of this space into studio spaces.”

In the dim light of Brown Family Studio 1, the true character of the piece shines as its ever-changing flow of color makes the ceiling come alive.

“I would really like to thank my partner in crime who has been with me since the beginning and even before me with this whole arts center but also a part of the creation of this piece for this space,” Hardison said of Brown, who received a vigorous round of applause from attendees.

“She is a true supporter of the arts and has such artistic vision, and this project would not have been possible without her,” Hardison said.

Brown explained one reason the artwork is fitting for Wilson.

“Wilson prides itself on being a fiber optic city, and to think that in the center of the city in the arts center is a fiber optic artwork, we are really, extremely proud and delighted to have it here,” Brown said.

McConnell said the creation is really “about trying to bring energy and motion” into the space.

“Much of what I do is about trying to capture a moment and make it in a way that people can experience it in their own way,” he said.

McConnell said he drew some inspiration from the artist Richard Serra, famous for abstract steel sculptures.

“Forest Wind” is almost completely overhead.

“It is present, but it’s not invasive,” McConnell said.

McConnell said he “wanted to figure a way to occupy space while not overtaking it, to create motion and form in a way that you could experience it but not be overwhelmed by it.”

One goal for the installation was to hide the ductwork, electrical lines and other building elements hanging overhead.

“That was the goal here, to create something that brought this space some energy, that hid all of the crazy stuff above and try to activate it in a way that’s not going to feel like it’s bearing down on you,” McConnell said. “At the same time, you want to be able to walk back and forth, check it out and see how shapes move and things like that.”

For more on McConnell’s artwork, visit www.mattmcconnell.com.

“I am honored to be a part of all of this,” McConnell said. “This has been a great experience working with these two and everybody here.”

The Wilson Arts Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. For more information, call 252-291-4329 or visit www.wilsonarts.com.

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