boston college fine arts department
Students in Professor Gallagher's "Drawing Connections" worked in groups to research the pagodas, and to create visualizations of their process of tracking them down. Midway through the semester, the groups presented to Professor Gallagher and their classmates their initial conceptualizations of the visual projects. This critique helped guide the groups through the completion of the project, and their final works were displayed in an exhibition in the Bapst Gallery in December. An opening reception that included Professor Jeremy Clark's History students underscored the cooperative and interdisciplinary nature of the endeavor.
During project crits, Professor Gallagher discusses with the class why she feels the "string pagoda" is the strongest element of the project proposed by Andrew Swansburg, Chelsey Frost, Claire Corea, Kyra Constam and Michael Galardi.
The magic of the "Post Structural Pagoda Plan" became apparent when the room lights were turned off and the plan illuminated from behind. Dan Fitzgerald, Kristen Mabie, Nick Mascoli and Pauli Rodis comprised this project's team.
Emma Donovan, Alexandra Mangione and Tashrika Sharma took a more abstract approach in representing their research process. For "Pagoda Algorithm," they made use of a software application called "Processing" to create a visualization of the random nature of their discoveries related to the provenance of the pagodas. This was overlaid by the visualization of a second algorithm representing a bird's-eye view of a pagoda. Here, Professor Gallagher discusses with members of the project team how they might proceed towards a final realization of their idea.
Angela Petrone, Lauren Cody, Derek Lintala, Kim Rich and Juan Colon approached their inquiry into the mystery of the pagodas by establishing contacts with people who might have some knowledge of the pagodas' location. Their "Pagoda Lanterns" represent how this personal and linguistic method eventually came together to form a network that helped locate the pagodas.
At the opening of the exhibition in the Bapst Art Gallery, students from Professor Clark's class had a chance to see the final projects of their colleagues in Professor Gallagher's class.
Members of the "Post Structural Pagoda" team each employed different research methodologies, in line with their personal strengths. They each created drawings, on translucent paper, representing the fruits of their research, and the overlapping of these drawings coalesces into their final project, depicting a classical Chinese pagoda.
One common interest of all the team members was how the pagodas were actually built.
Isolated from the literal map on which it had originally been overlaid, the String Pagoda evolved into a more conceptual work. The team employed two single lengths of string to suggest the nature of the pagodas and their journey from place to place around the world. The use of two strings also signifies the various dichotomies (such as individuality vs. multiplicity and private vs. public) the team encountered in their process.
With the lighting of the display area in mind, the team manipulated string arrangements to create shadows and the effect of strings "disappearing" in order to convey the often elusive nature of the search for information regarding the current location of the pagodas.
Wire hangers fastened together and splayed to mimic the shape of the top of a pagoda formed the armature of the "Pagoda Lanterns." Hanging freely, the lanterns evoke the fact that the pagodas moved often as they were traded and purchased.
The strings hanging from the lanterns represent the connections from the orphanage to the points all over the world to which the pagodas traveled. Team members cut strips from Jackson Pollock-like drawings and wove them through the hangers to complete the lanterns. Since Pollock's work often deals with language, this element referenced the linguistic nature of the team's research.
Members of the "Pagoda Algorithm" team used colored thread to stitch over parts of their computer printout to denote how much research they had accomplished to that point. The unfinished quality of the work reflects the inherently open-ended process of research.
Team members employed threads of different colors to denote the tensions and contradictory nature of much of their research. The superimposition of the traditional embroidery on the computer printout also suggests that the success of the search required both traditional, person-to-person networking as well as the capabilities of technology.