The Inn at Honey Run is extremely excited to introduce Lauren Skunta, the Open Air Art Museum’s newest artist. We have built great momentum with unique, cultured artists over the past year, and we are proud to be jumping right into our next installation with our first Cleveland-based artist. We love Lauren’s enthusiasm, and the fresh, modern vision she is bringing to OAAM through her piece. This month we interviewed Lauren to help you get to know her and share in our enthusiasm for her installation.
Tell us about yourself.
I received my BFA in Drawing and Painting from the Ohio State University, but it wasn’t until after college that I really started to explore art outside of 2 Dimensional work. While in school, I took sculptural classes, but what I really enjoyed was working in the wood shop creating the structures for my paintings.
A little while after graduation, I got offered my dream job as a display coordinator for Anthropologie. I moved to NYC and created window and interior displays for two years. This job really solidified my love of hand crafting a custom designed environment for people to exist in, and although I still paint and draw, I really enjoy getting my hands dirty creating 3 Dimensional works.
I grew both professionally and creatively in that job, but I knew if I wanted to have a business of my own I was going to have to start soon. I made the leap to start Elbowgrease in 2015! Elbowgrease creates custom displays for retailers, weddings, events, and businesses but also strives to create local art every year, which is why I am so excited and honored to be a part of the Open Air Art Museum at The Inn at Honey Run.
Tell us about your piece for the Open Air Art Museum at The Inn at Honey Run (inspirationally, as well as physically).
When I first arrived for my meeting with Jason at The Inn at Honey Run, I had only seen photographs of the beautiful location, so I wanted to keep an open mind as to what I would ultimately want to create. As we walked through the trails and looked at both the completed and in-progress pieces, I started to think about how I wanted to envision a piece that would both be in harmony with the surrounding environment, and be a moment of discovery for the guests as they walked through. Very early on in the thought process, I realized I wanted to create something that would hang overhead on the trails, creating a sort of tunnel that guests could walk through as a shared experience.
In the following weeks I pondered many different materials, techniques, colors, and so on, and I am so excited with what the final product will be! It’s a 40′ long aerial piece created by hanging 12,000 hand-dyed paint sticks, using the trees as anchors for this floating sculpture. The whole piece as a unit, as well as each individual stick will be able to ebb and flow as the wind sees fit. An array of golden rod yellow hues was chosen as the color palette because while I wanted to disrupt the natural landscape with a bold color choice, I also wanted it to be inspired by colors that can be found in nature year round.
Why did you decide to do this installation?
Who could turn down the opportunity to create art in such an amazing space! It makes me so happy to think of all the guests who will stumble upon this piece, all the weddings that will take place on the property, and all the other wonderful artists I’ll be bonded with as part of the OAAM experience.
What are you excited about for this process, the installation, and the final piece?
Process wise – it may be some people’s nightmare, but I love it! Drilling 12,000 holes, calculating weight distributions, engineering a rigging system, and having yellow dyed hands has really been a meditative process for me. I’m also excited to bring on an assistant for the installation process – Britni Cartier. She is a wonderful artist herself and will be helping to hang all 12,000 paint stirrers. Who knows, she may even help me come up with a name! The final piece will be a culmination of many littles coming together to form something larger than itself, which is exciting and meaningful, but I’m also looking forward to experiencing the visual effect. Sketches and planning can only take you so far. The look of the final piece will be heavily influenced by the natural landscape both supporting it and surrounding it.
Are there any challenges with this piece that you look forward to facing?
The shape of the piece depends entirely on the rigging system, and the rigging system depends entirely on the trees surrounding the trail. I’ve taken measurements and located the part of the trail for the installation, but the shape that the piece takes will be something that can’t be entirely predicted beforehand. Not being able to plan out where each connection point will be will leave me restless for a few days leading up to the install, but once it is in place, then begins the process of adding the 12,000 paint stirrers, which will be a great yin/yang experience.
What are your hopes for visitors as they experience your piece on the OAAM trail?
My hope is that the piece is viewed differently in every season. When the trees are full of leaves the art installation will be hidden from view until guests turn around a bend in the trail. When the trees are less dense my hope is that guests see the yellow hue in the distance and venture out to see what it is.