The Artist’s I becomes YOU

Orly Genger - MilletOrly Genger

Artist Orly Genger must have had fun with the word play of her large-scale site-specific sculpture at Brown University.   It is a U shape, and she calls it YOU.  If you’re a college student passing by, you might not recognize yourself in the recycled lobster ropes that have been hand-knotted and fitted onto steel rods.   One way it is YOU is that it is not “I”. It is not the soul of the self-obsessed artist. It is not an upright monolith, an I-focused I-beam. It is not the male EYE either. It has soft walls and it has one opening, and it can contain many beings.

As a sculpture in the world of impermanence, it is also changeable. During the construction process, its parts resembled haystacks casting shadows in the long slanting sun, like a Monet painting.   Then workers finished installing the hundreds and hundreds of feet of rope. Still, it was not “finished.”  Not only did leaves on the surrounding trees turn colors, the sculpture itself turned color, from red and yellow in the early weeks of November.  A stony tone began to stain the sky.  As gray replaced the bright autumn colors, YOU was spray-painted a dark gray. Like Genger, who graduated from Brown in 2001 and has made her current reputation as a successful artist, YOU has achieved its most stable form.

YOU will keep changing as the seasons change. I heard that a wild turkey ran by the lawn this week, but that can’t be confirmed. After the last piles of leaves, there will be a procession of snowdrifts, mud, then spring flowers until YOU is dismantled in June.

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