Migration June 01, 2015 - October 15, 2015
About the Work
This exhibition explores the transformative quality of knowledge and empathy and the ability of these forces to travel freely – from a library’s bookshelf, to the turning of page after page, where the hearts and minds of each solitary reader receives an imprint, and further onward to the shared encounters of individuals in the greater world.
On one balcony, an adult figure is represented with an owl, possibly that of Minerva, or perhaps just an ordinary bird. This adult stands with one hand resting on a lion; her other hand points towards the garden. This figure’s gaze is fixed on a child perched on the second balcony whose arms are transforming into red birds. These birds are flying towards an elephant standing on a mound of hearts perched atop of a 4-foot plinth in the heart of the garden. The elephant is balancing a bookshelf/obelisk in its back. Various other animals are swimming through the garden, making their migration to the elephant.
The elephant is inspired by Bernini’s Elephant and Obelisk located in the Piazza della Minerva in Rome, Italy. Inscribed on the plinth of Bernini’s elephant is the statement, “You, whoever you are, who see that the figures of wise Egypt sculpted on the obelisk are being carried by an elephant, the strongest of beasts, understand that it is proof of a strong mind to sustain solid wisdom.” This statement became the point of departure for this body of work, but like all migrations, the point of departure is just the beginning of a journey. Where Bernini’s inscription emphasized the strength of mind necessary to sustain wisdom this body of work explores how we are interconnected, and not alone in our strength. The library itself is a living proof of that community and the nature of an enduring strength.
Andréa Keys Connell
How It Started
Migration is the sixth installation of the annual See Also program, which brings temporary works of art to the Eastman Reading Garden each summer. See Also is a collaborative effort between the Cleveland Public Library and LAND studio. The program is funded through an endowment established by the late Lockwood Thompson, a trustee of the library and avid art collector. The Lockwood Thompson Endowment Fund was established to improve access to contemporary art and culture for all Clevelanders. See Also was created to engage with audiences in a new way by bring artwork to the reading garden. In addition to See Also, the endowment also supports the Lockwood Thompson Dialogues, an annual program dedicated to conversations that bring new ideas about culture and the arts to the city.