We just got the word that John Grade, the installation artist who is creating the setting for Ekho, Christopher Stowell’s world premiere that is the centerpiece of our Body Beautiful program in October, will be working on another Portland-based installation project that sounds amazing!
This time, he’ll be working with PICA’s Time Based Art Project and the City of Portland to create a work that is inspired by, and in part created with the participation of, Portland’s waste water systems. Here’s the details:

Meanwhile in Seattle, he is in the process of installing a work in the Museum of History and Industry made out timbers from a deconstructed shipwreck. You can read the recent Seattle Times article about this project here.

(Here is John Grade with the salvaged timber that will become the Seattle installation. photo by Alan Berner/Seattle Times)

So what will this fascinating artist be creating for OBT? Well, with the help of 300 Portland area volunteers, he will be building hanging paper trees that look something like this:

This image is from an installation called The Elephant Bed, and these hanging items were made out of a special dissolving paper that absorbed the ink puddled on the floor just beneath them. The structures were ultimately brought from the exhibit site to the English Channel and allowed to disintegrate into the ocean, symbolically reversing the process that microscopic ocean polyps go through when they die and build up to ultimately become the white cliffs of Dover. HOW COOL IS THAT?

The hanging elements of our installation will be made out of Tyvek (the house wrap material), which is less flammable than paper (always an important consideration in a theater!) It will also have a less pronounced polyp like shape, designed to evoke tree-forms rather than ocean forms. Christopher and John are playing around with the idea that our dancers may engage physically with the pieces during the choreography, perhaps fitting inside of them or setting them swinging. Grade mentioned in a recent production meeting that he had always wanted for his artwork to dance… and to have people dance with it.

Most importantly, it will be constructed with the help of volunteers from around Portland, who will assemble the basic elements of the installation with the assistance of our technical staff. Imagine the world’s largest origami project and you’ve got the general idea.

The installation is being created for a piece by Christopher called Ekho, that  is based on the Narcissus and Echo myth, a particularly apropo centerpiece for a program entitled Body Beautiful.

Want to volunteer? Contact Paul Stavish at paul.stavish@obt.org.

More about Body Beautiful | Tickets on sale September 5th

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