A week of install…

This is what nearly a years worth of prepping, planning and stressing comes down to. One week. And here’s one big blog post to wrap it up…

Pre-Install Day: Due to Hurricane Dorian, our shipping crates were behind schedule for delivery. We decided it would be best to pick them up at the transfer location in Jacksonville Florida and deliver them ourselves to the University of Florida Gainesville campus. Then about a third of our way there, we received a notice that they were already out for delivery. So the crates arrived at the university just about the same time we did. A little chaotic but it all worked out. We met with the staff at the Career Connections Center who got us and our work space situated. We also met with the scaffolding company who took their measurements and made plans for install the following day. So far, despite a hurricane, we were there, the art was there and we were still on schedule…not too bad!

Day 1: The scaffolding went up, but it was easy to tell that it was a more involved job than the scaffold company had planned for, yet they rose to the occasion and made it happen. While they dragged in parts, built, unbuilt and re-built our three story jungle gym, we unpacked the crates and templates and prepped for the day ahead.

Day 2: Paper templates went up on the walls, anchor points for each of the 6 installations were finalized and then my heart pounded as the first holes were drilled into the walls. I should add that we practiced and planned a lot at the studio before we installed these anchors which needed to support a lot of weight and tension so we should of been really confident in our work, but you never know what you are going to find behind drywall AND there are two huge walls with custom wallpaper on them, so there was really no room for error. After my morning series of panic attacks, we did finally settle into a routine getting a few critical weight bearing anchors up for each piece and we got 4 of the smaller pieces up on the wall. Stressful but successful.

Day 3: We started today with a little more confidence and we got the final two largest installations hung on the wall. It was really amazing to move a 20’x 16′ modular piece with only 3 people, over, under and around three flights of scaffolding without breaking anything. There were a few moments of stress, lots of giggles and just a little bit of untangling to do as we got the piece into place. But by the end of the day, everything was up… it wasn’t finished or pretty but it was up off the floor dangling from a few upper anchors.

A week of install | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

Day 4: The very first hole drilled this day went into a spot where there was conduit behind it blocking the hole too much to be able to use a toggle anchor- Arrg. There was no way to tell before hand but we had to abandon that hole and (luckily it was not on a wall paper wall!). A little gun-shy we moved on but by the end of the day 4 of the 6 installations were finalized and some of the paper templates had come down revealing a really nice peek of how the installations will look against the charcoal grey walls. Feeling pretty good about how the final outcome will look!

Day 5: Today was a slower day, we were definitely feeling the bodily effects of climbing all over the scaffolding for the past three days but we took it easy getting the final two installations finished up and pulling the paper templates down. I also spent some time just staring at the walls, making sure that everything flowed around the space smoothly and that there weren’t any lines or shapes that looked awkwardly placed which is kind of a hard task when the scaffolding is in the way of nearly every viewpoint. By the end of the day, I was satisfied and we were ready for the scaffolding to come down.

I had also planned for all of my shipping materials to be repurposed to art students on campus, within hours of sending out the word that my wood crates, packing foam and bubble wrap was available, it was all gone. I’m so thrilled to keep all of that out of the landfill while also helping out some students with free materials.

A week of install | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

Day 6: The scaffolding came down (way faster than it went up!). I held my breath as each of the parts was disconnected and handed down to the lower levels, hoping that the artwork would not be touched in the process. Finally getting to see the installations fully for the first time was a little nerve-wracking, seeing as there was nothing to be done about fixing anything now that the scaffolding was gone. While there are always things to improve on and tweak here and there, I feel really good that all of my planning and staging of the work in my studio paid off and I very happy with the final results! Photos of the final installation are posted here: Bone Series : Biophilia Connections

Who is the “we” I keep mentioning here…

I always say ‘it takes a village to raise an artist’ and I know that it’s my name that goes on this project but really it would not of been possible without the skills of my husband Nate who drilled and set every anchor (possibly cursing and sweating through each one!), assisted me on the planning, prep and execution of the entire project from day one and got me a cold beer at the end of every day. In addition, we had our lifelong friend Beth roped into this adventure who is always willing to jump in regardless of the task, make us laugh in all of the stressful moments, and charm anyone who walks in the room and wonders what the hell is going on. These two did it all, on top of a million other tiny tasks that made it all appear seamless. I’m forever grateful.

Thanks for joining me on this art adventure, and if you’re ever in Gainesville, be sure to check out this installation in person! Hope you enjoyed the process and the art! Join me next time as I leave for an art residency in Taiwan in two weeks – yikes, I need to pack!

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