Over a two-year sojourn more than a century ago, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and his wife Olivia lived at Wave Hill House, situated on a sprawling garden oasis located in the Bronx overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades. Olivia was ill and required “quiet seclusion” to regain her health. After hearing about their relationship and their love letters, sculptor David McQueen was inspired to create Field Notes to an Imagined Narrative, Bridging Isolation, currently on view in Glyndor Gallery in the Wave Hill Cultural Center and on the grounds of Wave Hill through November 29th.
Visitors are encouraged to walk the same grounds the Clemens’ so loved to discover fragments of their long-ago story. The objects and drawings McQueen presents as “field notes” belong to an imagined narrative in which husband and wife construct elaborate mechanisms to communicate, thereby maintaining their intimacy despite Olivia’s prescribed isolation.
“I found their story to be fantastically romantic. It was not difficult to project myself into the era,” said McQueen.
McQueen’s site specific installation includes such unlikely components as gramophone horns installed into a favorite chestnut tree, so that writing outdoors, in the afternoons, Clemens would still be able to hear his beloved’s daily singing. He envisions telescopes and mirrors installed at angles so that husband and wife might catch glimpses of one another throughout the day.
In McQueen’s narrative, the use of a double-wired chandelier and sconces in Olivia’s sickroom would enable Samuel to know exactly where he was on the property. Gramophone horns have been installed around the property to transmit the sounds heard in the gardens, and the installation includes a rewired chandelier and sconces, as well as “recovered” telescopes and mirrors, all articulations of being together when you can’t be together.
David McQueen is a sculptor and installation artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. He is represented by Kim Foster Gallery in New York. His work has been shown at Wayfarers, DUMBO Arts Center and at Parker’s Box in Brooklyn, NY; Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, Wilmington, DE; and The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY. He is a 2011 NYFA Fellow in sculpture, and received an MFA in sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University and a BA from Oberlin College. He is also the Arts director for Advancement for Rural Kids (ARK), an impact organization that provides feeding programs, scholarships and arts education for children in rural provinces of the Philippines.
Exhibition-Related Public Programs
Unless stated otherwise, all public programs listed here are free with admission to the grounds and do not require pre-registration. Related public programs include:
Exhibiting Artists and Curator Talk : Saturday, November 7, 2PM.
Gallery Tours: Wave Hill’s Curatorial Fellow leads guided tours take place Tuesdays and Saturdays at 2PM.
Support for the Visual Arts Program is provided by Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., the Milton & Sally Avery Arts Foundation, The New York Community Trust, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts. The family art project is generously sponsored by Target, with additional support provided by Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Sustaining support is provided by the Sally and Gilbert Kerlin Endowment for Environmental Science and Nature Education. Support for Public Programs is provided by the William Froelich Foundation. Support for Garden Programs is provided by the Hagedorn Fund. The Institution’s operations are made possible in part by public funds provided through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in FebOne1960.com Blog, Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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