I've always wanted to make work for New York City parks, and Governors Island was at the top of the list. It's been an intense process so far, because Governors Island presents some interesting challenges. This is the first time I will be building something to last all summer outdoors without on-site construction access, with a super-shallow 6” limit on ground penetration, and with a requirement for portability and possible reinstallation. While constructing on-site presents its own issues (mostly weather and security related), building a large sculpture off-site is a relatively large challenge, due to the cost of workspace, storage, and transportation in the NYC area. There's also a lot more planning (and math!) involved in making everything ahead of time, factory-style. And the ground penetration limit and portability requirement made engineering a project for stability and durability more difficult too.
However, I did my best to take these factors into consideration when brainstorming for this proposal. I chose a concept that I could build in pieces, transport and store efficiently outside of my studio, transport to Governors Island, install safely without concrete footings, and take apart while keeping the components intact. The 12 tables and 13 benches will each be 40" square and arranged in an alternating, checkerboard-style, 5x5 grid. (The size of the grid was largely determined by budgetary/time constraints. I dream of trying it at a much larger scale... some other time, obviously.) I'm constructing it out of Douglas fir 2x4s and 2x6s, and coating it with water sealant to protect against the elements and general wear and tear.
I am currently in one of the most exciting phases of this project. I've already figured out how I'm going to construct everything, drafted all my plans (I finally learned how to use SketchUp!), created about a million checklists and spreadsheets, cleared out as much space as I can in my studio, tested all my structural components, and made all my jigs. Now that most of the planning is done, I'm in major production mode where my assistants and I cut, mark, drill, sand, and stain all the components in my Brooklyn studio before bundling and packaging everything for storage and transportation. We are working hard to make sure everything is exactly the same, so that it fits together like my very own giant IKEA kit on site.
So far, my biggest unforeseen fabrication challenge has actually been physically keeping track of all the different components, as in knowing where each single piece of wood is and what step of the production process it is on. But I figured out a system that works, where the production process flows form one end of the studio to the other and each component is labeled with a letter and a table/bench designation for easy on-site assembly.
This past weekend, I had a studio visit with the engineer and the curatorial advisor from FIGMENT NYC for my final structural review, and Common Picnic passed with flying colors!! Now all I need to do is finish making the other 24 tables/benches and raise enough money to get it out of my studio and onto the island!
Thankfully, FIGMENT has given me enough funding to get me through most of the production process. However, I still need funding for the rest of the lumber and supplies, as well as storage for the components as I finish them (since I can’t possibly fit it all in my studio), and transportation to Governors Island. After all, it would be a HUGE shame if I got everything ready in time, but couldn’t get it to the site!
I am currently running my very first Kickstarter campaign, and I have until May 1st to raise $2,500. Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing platform, so if I don't meet my goal, then I don't get anything. As of this posting, I am currently at 64%, so my chances of being funded are looking good. But it all depends on your support... donations are preferred, but (social media) shares are great too! In the Common Picnic spirit, anyone to donates anything (even $1!) will be invited to a special donors-only potluck picnic on June 27, 2015 where you can meet and eat with all the other amazing people who helped make this project happen through Kickstarter. Plus, if you donate $25 or more, then you can reserve a seat on the sculpture itself and interact directly with the artwork that you helped bring to life! And even if you won't be around for the picnic, you can still earn "thank you" goodies for your support, like a limited-edition print or cute tote bag.
I will be posting updates on Kickstarter, but to see the very latest project progress, follow me on social media: