Connect/Disconnect, a temporary public art exhibition spearheaded by the Metro Louisville Commission for Public Art (COPA), invited visitors to explore and contemplate Louisville’s urban riverfront and engage with the many layers of this vibrant postindustrial city. Via worked with COPA to site the exhibition at a location west of downtown and adjacent to the Louisville Loop, a pedestrian and bicycle trail along the Ohio River. Via developed the curatorial framework for the exhibition and led the artist selection. We then worked with each artist through concept development and approvals and supported COPA staff through contract development and project implementation.
The five works in Connect/Disconnect were on display from August to November 2015. Three of the artworks were recognized as being among the year’s best public artworks by Americans for the Arts Public Art Network Year in Review 2016.
Anthropocene Fossils by Jean Shin was inspired by ancient fossil beds on the Ohio River. This installation imagined fossils of the future focused on today’s consumer waste and items swept down the river. As part of the public art making process, individuals in the community helped to clean up massive amounts of debris from the riverfront. These salvaged materials were cast into a disused concrete path and transformed into cross-sections that show the vessels’ interiors.
For Upriver / Downriver, Mark Reigelman reimagined the barrel stacks that lined early Louisville’s riverfront as cargo was portaged around the Falls of the Ohio River. By combining salvaged wooden barrels with sleek saturated mirrored surfaces, Upriver/Downriver highlights the community’s unique history while reflecting its forward-thinking culture.
Field of Vision: A Garden for Others transformed the concept of a butterfly garden into an experience of wonder by offering a glimpse into the somatic perception of butterflies. Jenny Kendler combined science and aesthetics to engage visitors in the crucial role wildflowers play in supporting pollinators, conservation and the ecosystem.
Louisville-based artist Mary Carothers created Beneath the Surface from her personal collection of doorknobs from centuries-old local architecture and from Belfast, in tribute to Irish immigrants working along the Ohio River. Over 2,000 porcelain cast knobs affixed to rods of various heights were arranged into a flowing topography, each representing an individual’s story within the community.
The artist collective SIMPARCH developed River Monument (glomus) to embody the Ohio River and the constant element of driftwood. The natural water-worn debris and unique biomorphic character of each piece of collected driftwood became the artists’ medium for a monument to Louisville’s mighty Ohio River.