Work progressing on sculpture “blue is the atmospheric refraction I see you through”
The internal stairway and frame of a new, temporary sculpture are taking shape outside the Adirondack History Museum. A scaffold of thick, fresh-sawn local cedar from Westport has slowly taken shape on a patch of lawn centered in front of the Colonial Garden.
Sculptor Randi Renate, of San Antonio, Texas, is a recent Masters in Fine Arts graduate from Yale School of Art where her thesis installation went unseen due to Covid-19 restrictions. Her transit to and through the Adirondack Mountains last year provided months of inspiration, and this work, she said, is a way to share her gratitude.
The temporary installation is called: “blue is the atmospheric refraction I see you through” and will be completed in early July. When complete, the sphere will have two stairways on either side that meet at the top of the 14-foot sculpture. Renate has been working on fabrication from a studio in Elizabethtown with her fiancée and artist Raúl de Lara. She designed the work for the Adirondacks. “When you hike to the top of a summit, the vast birds-eye-view offers distance and perspective. The climbing of the sculpture mimics the act of traversing these mountains that have given me so much artistic inspiration and personal growth,” Renate stated.
The work-in-progress is a participatory project separate from the Adirondack History Museum’s exhibit series this season. But, it complements the Museum’s 2021 show of women artists, celebrating both local residents and women who’ve drawn inspiration from the mountain landscape. “A Woman’s View – Recognizing Artists in the Adirondacks” is exhibited inside the museum as Renate’s sculpture progresses on the grounds.
Once completed, visitors can climb to the top of the sculpture for a view that encompasses the fire tower on Hurricane Mountain. “I feel this project is very timely right now, after the pandemic,” Renate said. “Even at the top there is a distance between you and another person. But it is also a meeting point, a place to come together.” The sphere itself represents movement and the climb toward what is possible. “The dome can be a mountain, an observatory, a planet. For me, the shape holds a lot of momentum that is pushing these concepts together, like currents. Spheres are shaped by gravity,” Renate says of the design’s concept. “I want viewers to think of the interconnectedness of people and nature.”
The sculpture’s frame and the smooth shell are being built from locally sourced, Adirondack cedar. The blue-gray wash that will finish the piece is a color found in the most distant layers of a mountain landscape. “The blue color finish of the work is drawn from our expansive atmosphere: seeing from a distance when at the top of a summit,” Renate said.
The participatory installation, “blue is the atmospheric refraction I see you through” offers a space of encounter—a terrain to see and be seen by others, to recognize and be recognized. “I’ve felt so much gratitude living in the Adirondacks. This is my thank-you to the mountains and the people,” the sculptor said.
As she’s worked the past few weeks, many residents and people who work in town have stopped as they walk by to ask about the artist’s process.
“This is an important part of the Museum’s mission,” said Executive Director Aurora McCaffrey. “Our museum looks at more than the region’s rich history, it also considers how these mountains and the landscape have inspired so many people who come here. We welcome the opportunity to provide artists with a place to develop and display their work.”
The sculpture will remain on site through the 2021 season. An opening reception is scheduled for August 13, at 5:00, and is open to the public.
Renate worked with the town to obtain permits for the project, which is funded, in part, through the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. The funds are administered by the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts.
“The Adirondack History Museum is pleased to serve as a venue for this 2021 New York State Council on the Arts Adirondack Decentralization grant-supported project,” McCaffrey said.
Randi Renate received a B.F.A. in Studio Art and a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014, moving to Berlin, Germany. in the spring 2015, where she maintained a studio and artist-run project space, TRACE. Randi Renate is a 2020 M.F.A. graduate from the Sculpture Department at the Yale School of Art.
More about the artist: www.randirenate.com