Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Home of the Grid

The Mano Project
a collaborative work created
by poets C.D.Wright and Forrest Gander
and artists Rick Hirsch and Michael Rogers
at the Vignelli Center at R.I.T. in April

In my past life as an illustrator and designer, I worked on a number of publishing projects that were governed by grids created by the designer Massimo Vignelli, so I thought it was totally apt to feature a collaborative work of art that projects that familiar format in the Vignelli Center at R.I.T.  The Vignelli Center (which really should be called "The Home of the Grid") has many displays that feature the ubiquitous designs that Massimo and his wife Lella Vignelli have created over a long and adventurous career as international graphic artists.  When I was living in Manhattan the Vignelli designs were all around me on my worktable, when I went into the subway (a famous map of the NYC subway system), on the buses (watch your step!) and shopping bags (for Bloomingdales among others), and so much more.

I put a link up on this blog to the Vignelli Canon, a book with great lessons in mass communication skills and a primer for all graphic designers.  Grids help orient us in space, whether it is a two dimensional page, or a three dimensional sculpture or even a time based animation.

If you walk into the Vignelli Center during this month you will not only be in a very beautiful, tall exhibition space, but you will also find artworks by Frances and Albert Paley, and in the center of the main room a collaborative sculptural work between two poets - C.D. Wright and Forrest Gander of Rhode Island and two artists from R.I.T. - Rick Hirsch and Michael Rogers.

The Mano Project has been two years in the making - it took an initial inspiration from a poem by Forrest Gander and the creative talents of well regarded artists such as Rick Hirsch and Michael Rogers and their dedicated students to make and put the parts together out of clay and glass.

An oversize mortar and pestle dominate the tableau, which sits on a checkerboard of glass or ceramic tiles that amplify the grid of the light grey floor at the Vignelli Center.  At the opposite end of the tile "map" stand eight clear glass jars filled with grains of various colors which can remind one of a rich outdoor marketplace with piles of spices or a ritual and or spiritual place portrayed in a Persian miniature. The Mano Project throws into high relief the personal artistic alchemy that takes basic elements of the earth and creates a sensitive work of art.

Another interesting grid I found across town at 176 Anderson Avenue in the inaugural exhibition held at the Axom Gallery, in the same building as the Steve Carpenter studios.  Paul Garland is the artist
and I found the grid of small paintings quite fascinating and worth the visit.