A kinetic experience of sound and texture

Today UC Davis students have the unique opportunity to witness a one-of-a-kind exhibit called “Melt” in the Basement Gallery, located in the basement level of the art building.

Senior art studio and environmental resource sciences major Thelonious Elliott and senior art studio and international relations double major Wray Morgan Herbert-King have undertaken an ambitious project made of large blocks of ice and at least 500 liters of frozen water.

After a planning and constructing stage of five weeks, the piece itself will only be on display for four hours (3 to 7 p.m.) today. Using the large space of the Basement Gallery, Elliott and Herbert-King will hang several blocks of ice from the ceiling over stretched tarps that converge to a center piece that will accurately hold the melted ice. Experimenting with sound and acoustics they will also have microphones and amplifiers picking up the sounds of drops of water as they hit the tarps.

The project began with the proposed idea that if an artist was given a space for a week, what would they be able to do with it?

Basement Gallery director Jennifer Urrutia elaborated on why Elliott and Herbert-King’s piece was chosen.

“They’re the stand out,” Urrutia said. “We ended up accepting only three out of seven proposals. We knew that they were going to use the space well, to elevate the art. That they were going to make the space whole, and use it differently. They take it seriously because they love what they do, they’re definitely admirable guys.”

Additionally, Urrutia hopes that others artists find that Elliott and Herbert-King’s creative energy infectious.

“What we’re hoping to do with this instillation to make more people confident to show their art,” Urrutia said. “With this sense of confidence students would hopefully get from showing their art, they’ll able to take the skills they learn with them later in life. Essentially that’s the goal of the Basement Gallery.”

This is the first official collaboration between Elliott and Herbert-King. They have, for some time, been friends and helped each other with personal projects. To their surprise, the project has created a unique opportunity for creative energy between the two to grow.

“I’ve enjoyed it more than I thought I would,” Elliott said. “I kind of anticipated like how when you’re on a road trip with your best friend but by the end you want to strangle them. But surprisingly we’ve kept it pretty civil and we work well together. You learn a lot and sort of start to absorb the other person’s sensibilities in a way, you’d start to pay attention to the details that they would.”

“[Elliott] and I very clearly work well together,” Herbert-King said . “When it comes down to it, when we get the most done is when we’re working on something together, it’s good to have another person there to keep you in check. We don’t let ourselves or each other slide.”

In regards to the chosen medium, viewers might ask: Why ice? Elliott and Herbert-King would respond: Well, why not?

“I like the idea of taking this really common material and re-contextualize it. The question is not about what the ice means,” Elliott said. “If I knew the answer to that I wouldn’t want to do this piece. I realize that the materials we use bring their own narrative to them but we’re not really constructing a story”.

For Herbert-King, the main purpose behind this specific installation is for viewers to appreciate the hard work that goes into creating such a physically complex piece.

“I think the idea in general is that we create something, the viewer comes and they look at it and they compare it to their lives,” Herbert-King said. “I’ll consider it a success if people just come appreciate the opportunity to see something out of the ordinary and appreciate how much we put ourselves into it. If people will just come and look at it at all, I’ll be happy.”

RUDY SANCHEZ can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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