The 40 abstract prints swaying in the breeze down the center of Tatnall Square, better known as the walkway separating the Nemours Building (home of coworking space The Mill) and the Brandywine Building, are a juxtaposition on several levels: old and new, temporary and permanent, low-tech and high tech.
Artist Trissa Hill of Hockessin created the prints that hang between the square’s vintage light posts using an old printmaking technique using clay tablets — but instead of paper, the abstracts are printed on a high tech industrial material called Reemay. The sturdy material, often used in filtration applications, transports a kind of artwork people are used to seeing indoors behind glass out in the open, in the elements, with touching and interacting encouraged.
Co-sponsored by Tapp Network and emerging arts startup CULTURA, which both have offices in The Mill, the pop-up outdoor installation was commissioned earlier this month as part lo-fi viral marketing for the upcoming Tapp Summit on June 19 and part interactive community project. The main purpose is clearly engagement — whether in the form of an organized event or by people just stopping to look on their lunch break.
The location was an obvious one for a partnership between Mill members — the art can be seen from the coworking space’s west-facing windows — and they were given enthusiastic permission from its owner, Buccini/Pollin Group.
“They were helpful and very positive,” CULTURA founder Melissa Froemming said of BPG’s involvement. BPG Director of Design and Marketing Sarah Lamb was especially involved with making the project happen. “Sarah is an architect, so her heart is with the arts,” Froemming said.
The space is meant to be utilitarian, but the easy-access connection between the Brandywine and the Nemours — once two of the DuPont Company’s HQ buildings — is no longer a vital feature. It’s not a place where people generally linger, except maybe for a smoke break.
“We’re taking the architecture of the space, which maybe hasn’t been given the most attention, and saying, ‘Let’s start thinking about how we can add beauty and how that can draw people in,'” said Froemming, who takes a “human centered” approach to design. The project is part of CULTURA’s “Talk To Strangers” series that aims to bring people together via unexpected art.
One unexpected facet of Hill’s installation is that she was mentored in the clay monoprint technique by the celebrated artist and former University of Delaware faculty member Mitch Lyons, who passed away in March.
“A man came out of the Brandywine Building the other day and asked, ‘Is this Mitch Lyons’ work?’ and he proceeded to talk about the first time saw his work,” said Froemming. “That’s been an unexpected connection.”
On Monday, June 18 from 4 to 5:30 p.m., the installation will be at the center of a “Talk to Strangers: Live Art Experience” event, where people of all ages can become part of the art by using chalk to create new pieces on blank Reemay squares, the walkway or even on Hill’s prints themselves. (“Trissa is fine with that,” Froemming assures.)
The event will also feature a Q&A on public art by Rick Hidalgo of RH Gallery & Studios, who helped install the piece, and live music by Levi Dylan & the Former Ruins. Cafe Mezzanotte, whose outdoor seating area is in Tatnall Square, will have a happy hour during the event.-30-