Artist Tavares Strachan is constructing five massive words in pink neon on a mountain in Telluride, Colorado. The glowing sentence spans 50 feet at its widest point and 10 feet off the ground. Though the work was conceived three years ago for this specific location, the message has suddenly gained greater weight, urgency, hopefulness, and uncertainty for us all. Together is set to be unveiled this September 2020.
The words “We are in this together” will be viewed by visitors riding an existing gondola – a suspended cable transport. Beginning in September, the artwork will glow with varying degrees of brightness all day for 18 months, passing through every season. This animated video rendering demonstrates the neon contrast with the green of spring and the cold white of winter.
Also on view, in Marian Goodman Gallery’s digital viewing room are indoor neon sculptures that use the same five words in a different configuration. Besides scale, the primary difference between the epic landscape work and the smaller wall works is the space BETWEEN the words. The outdoor work uses large gaps of space to punctuate the power of each word as viewers are carried slowly through the work. In contrast, the indoor works compress the sentence, removing the space between each of the words completely. The LACK of space however, doesn’t speed the viewing experience – it slows it down. A viewer is forced to invest time and effort to examine, separate, and reassemble meaning.
Several of the wall sculptures use uncoordinated color to additionally confuse the boundaries of each word (wait…does that say “history”?). The effort to visually separate each word also presents deeper questions: What is the “this” referring to? Or perhaps most importantly: Who is the “We” exactly? The whole sentence is a question without a question mark – it’s hopeful and unsettling.
In addition to the sculpture, Tavares Strachan is working with The Telluride Foundation in partnership with Ah Haa School for the Arts and the town of Mountain Village to launch a community outreach project entitled “TOGETHER” to run concurrently. The project will present ongoing community work including philanthropy, outreach/dialogue, and fundraising for local food banks.
What: Tavares Strachan, “Together”
Where: Telluride, Colorado
Renderings and additional artwork: Marian Goodman Gallery online viewing room
When: Launching September 2020
All images courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.