A Reflection On The Process Of Form Building

As part of the structure team for the creek monster nest I felt a roller coaster of emotions during the process. These feelings went from excitement, to stress, to exhaustion, to worry, and ended with an extreme sense of pride. Although the design for the nest was decided on prior to the beginning of class, the pragmatics of the design were not. We knew we needed a structure in a certain shape to hold on the skin, eyes, and electrical cables but what it was going to be made of, or how we were going to make it was unknown. As a designer this uncertainly normally would not concern me greatly as I love problem solving; but the very tight turn around for our specific team did concern me. The structure team had to be entirely finished with their project months before any other team to allow for them to test their ideas against the structure. This brought about an extreme sense of urgency and initial anxiety, so with no time to spare we began designing.

Building a large dome structure from metal is an interesting challenge as the weight of each piece seems to work against you. So, like the problem solving team we were, we found solutions to each hurdle we encountered. This is not to say that we did this on our own as a team of three, we had some really incredible guest artists help us along the way. Each artist seemed to breathe life into the nest with their particular skill set. Sarah Conway was the first to help wrap our minds around the form and the pragmatics of how it would eventually become a self-standing structure. She was an expert welder (although her heart is in blacksmithing) and brought an enormous amount of professionalism to the project. The next artist that I felt accelerated the grand ambitions of our team was Mike Ortiz. His background and hands-on approach to mentoring was enormous, almost as enormous as his ability to tighten elements of steel previously thought impossible by the human arm; this has been coined “Ortiz tight”. Although we had many other artists that were vital to the success of the project I specifically mention these two because of their ability to help us think through the difficulty of form building. Form building is difficult both in a 3d world and in real life, this is why making a physical mockup model is really helpful for me. The ability to go from concept to built form can be difficult and time consuming; the luxury of time was not something we possessed.  While we were problem solving and building it seemed to take forever. In reality, we accomplished an incredible feat in a very small amount of time. I am grateful to Karen Maness and Delena Bradley for allowing us to be part of their vision of the creek monster nest. I am hopeful that each guest artist that was able to join us felt as fulfilled by their involvement in the process as I do. Last but certainly not least, I am humbled by the 60,000 people that made the effort to engage with our immersive art work. As a creek monster myself, I hope that people were able to walk away with a new found respect for the creek and its ability to be a catalyst for creativity within the community.