L’Envol (French for ‘the moment of taking flight’)

carbon fiber composite
50 x 63 x 4 inches

Early in my fellowship in France, I spent lots of time in the château’s gardens, just becoming familiar with the place that I would use as a canvas for my projects that year. I took note of everything, from how other visitors walked there, to how the light fell on different areas at different times of the day, to what happened during wind or rainstorms. This familiarity, closeness to this place was a key to getting my creative process going that year.

This sculpture started and ended with the garden’s cypress trees, a species I’ve always loved. Early in my fellowship, I watched as a windstorm whipped these trees back and forth, their tops moving several feet in either direction. They were filled with a sense of animated life, simultaneously grounded and seeming about to take flight. I tried to imagine myself up at the top of one — what would be one’s experience there? I wondered how I might emphasize this movement, even in times of less wind, and the sense of tension I felt around whether the tree would remain rooted to the ground, or would lift off. I decided to figure out how to place a sculpture right at the very top of one of these slender trees, to emphasize both the tree’s vulnerability to the winds that whip through there, and its incredible resilience to these forces. The sculpture needed to match and make ‘tangible’ both this perceptible sense of vulnerability and the resilience.

I also embedded two rocks from the nearby coastline I to the tips of the sculpture to bring a faint acoustic component into the work. When the wind blows, these rocks strike each other and a slight percussive sound can be heard from down below.

This is a work I created during my one-year fellowship at the Château de la Napoule in southern France, as part of being awarded the 2022-2023 Prix Henry Clews from the La Napoule Art Foundation.