Whale-fall

Artist Hannah Viano says it so beautifully, I’m just going to cede the floor to her…

On a cold winter night in a tiny mountain cabin, I was listening to Radiolab and heard a new word that drew me in close, sketchbook in hand. I listened to this little clip of information, sounds, and ideas entranced (a whale-fall is when a whale dies in the open ocean and sinks to the sea-floor nourishing a whole ecosysten of creatures for decades). In the weeks to come I thought back to it again and again, so much that I began to look for ways to make it into an art project. Along the way I uncovered connections and emotions that continue to unfold and surprise me.  I’ve had the opportunity  to work back through an idea far enough  to see the web of influences show through.  Here are some of the pieces of this puzzle, stay tuned as the installation grows and changes in the next couple months.

 Hannah has created a lovely installation for Storefronts Auburn at One Main Street, right at the corner of Division. It’s backed by a giant canvas sail, and includes not just her signature cut-paper black-and-white 2-D pieces, but jars of seawater and shells, and intricate hanging lights with carved wooden veneers (created in collaboration with Iole Allesandrini).
You can see the whole evolution of her work in this one installation, from sketches to ink drawings to papercuts. There’s an organic quality to it, a tactile and dirty quality to the rope, and canvas, and hand-drawn lines, but there’s also a cleanness of line, a precious intentionality to the coils of rope on the floor, that make the whole thing cohere as one singular sculptural object.

Whale-fall, detail, by Hannah Viano, 2012

But decide for yourself. Swing by the space and spend some time with this beautiful new work, and check in regularly to see how she’ll be updating and adding to the piece.
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