The Brookline Arts Center sought proposals for a six-month public art installation in beautiful Monmouth Park. This call for artists was part of the new permanent public art component of our gallery program. Each year, one dynamic solo artist or small collaborative group will have the opportunity to experiment and develop their work with the support of the BAC. Artist(s) selected will design, create and exhibit their proposed installation.
Our 2020 public art installation will be Shimmer, created by artist Meagan Hepp, who has worked at the BAC since June 2017. For this installation, Hepp will create a site-specific sculptural replication of the Brookline Arts Center’s historic building, to be on view May 1-October 31, 2020. The sculpture itself will be a silhouette structure built from wood and painted wire mesh. Plastic ribbon, recycled by hand from plastic water bottles, will be woven through the mesh, filling in the walls of the building. During the day, the bottles will reflect the sunlight out into the community and at night, the structure will be lit from inside, creating a dramatic pattern on the park’s floor.
“During my time there, I have been astonished to see the community come together, whether by taking a class, attending an opening, or supporting our local makers during the Artist Marketplace every holiday season. I am always impressed with the way the BAC supports the community and vice versa. I am hoping to create an outdoor sculpture that acts as an homage to Brookline Arts Center and the community it serves.”
With the help of the BAC community, Hepp will collect recyclable bottles from around the Brookline area to help create the piece. After collection, each bottle will be turned into a spool of plastic ribbon and then woven into the structure. The bottoms and tops of each bottle, which cannot be used within the structure itself, will be transformed by the Brookline community into sculptural hanging planters during a workshop. This will both transform the project into a zero-waste one and invite the community to co-create the sculptural environment – just as they are co-creators of the BAC community at large.
“As an artist, teacher and community member, I always find myself looking for local art heroes. ‘Connectionography,’ 2016, by Niko Arranz and Frank Criscione was adhered to the side of Brookline Arts Center until very recently. For me, it is an iconic BAC memory. As a nod to that piece’s influence, the colors of the wire mesh will draw inspiration from its bright, inviting palette. With my background in sculpture and my deep connection to the BAC community, I plan to put my own spin on public art in Monmouth Park. My goal is to connect with and celebrate the history, values, and community that make up the Brookline Arts Center.”
Outside of the public art realm, the structures I create explore themes of domesticity and anxiety by cycling through a process of destruction and repair, and landing finally at an unsteady balance between the two. Instead of opposites, these themes are equal bearers of the sculptures’ weight: holding them together not through stability, but rather through the tension between breaking and fixing, harming and healing.
To this end, much of my work cites the symbol of the house but resists its typical associations of security and comfort. Rather, these structures are deteriorating, precarious, and seem constantly on the verge of collapse. Using found and reclaimed wood, I first construct, then repeatedly damage, destroy, and rebuild using materials ranging from the mundane (bandages, string) to the reverential (gold leaf). In this sculptural world, both destruction and healing are painful, messy, and ongoing—leaving structures standing shakily, yes, but nevertheless standing.
For the structure in Monmouth Park, I hope to use the metaphor of recycling and repurposing to bring the conversation of environment and the action of the community to the forefront.
Meagan Hepp is a sculptor working in Boston, MA. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the New England School of Art and Design at Suffolk University in 2016. Her work focuses on materials and how they relate; she creates tension by breaking and fixing, harming and healing, to create a sense of visual anxiety. In addition to creating sculpture, Meagan also teaches and runs the ceramics studio at the Brookline Arts Center, is the Studio Manager for the Cambridge-based public art team Harries Héder Collaborative, and in 2018, Meagan also started as an adjunct professor at Suffolk University. She has recently shown at Kingston Gallery and Post-Cubicle Gallery. Her work is in private collections in Boston, New Jersey, Berlin, and Philadelphia. This will be her first solo public art piece.
This program is supported in part by a grant from the Brookline Commission for the Arts, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.