Meet the Artist: Perception Pool

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Events

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Perception Pool delighted viewers at its unveiling at the Contemporaries’ 5th Annual Fountain Fest October 19! The installation was devised and designed by a team of architects at Polk Stanley Wilcox led by Heather Davis – we caught up with Heather to give us the scoop on Perception Pool, from inspiration to execution.

What was the inspiration for Perception Pool?

Perception Pool is conceived as a metaphor for why and how art is experienced. Art is inherently subjective, as each viewer’s perception of a work of art is shaped by one’s own unique experiences, values, emotions, and surroundings. Whether the subject matter is familiar or foreign, clear or abstracted – experiencing art is an active and dynamic process that is amplified or hindered by a variety of contextual and personal factors. Our perception of a work of art, then, is truly a reflection of ourselves in a place and time.

As an architect, how did you approach this project?

As architects, we work to create an experience for our clients and the public through the built environment. In our first team meeting on this project, we decided to try to create an installation that is also experiential. Rather than a piece contained within the fountain for viewing, we really wanted our installation to invite the viewer to walk up, interact and discover.

How did you create this installation?

After receiving word that our entry was selected as the winner, our first step was to take detailed measurements of the fountain and adjust our 3D digital model to ensure the scale was accurate. Next, we went to work exploring building materials and creating physical prototypes to achieve the desired effect. Within our digital model, we divided each fin into segments to fit on 4 x 8 foot sheets of plywood, then sent the files to CDI Contractors, who cut the shapes for us on their CNC router. We assembled the plywood segments using wood screws, then covered those segments with reflective mylar film. We also constructed a support structure made from 2x material, which is concealed beneath the water and within the fin segments. The final step was transporting the structure and segments from our warehouse and installing them on the fountain. Over 20 people helped when available throughout the construction and install process – it was truly a group effort!

What were the biggest challenges in creating and building Perception Pool?

Time was definitely our biggest challenge! The majority of the construction had to be done on weekends and after-hours so that we could keep up with regular work, so it has been a busy few weeks.

What’s your favorite thing about this installation?

I love that it’s appearance varies based on the direction from which it is viewed, as well as who/what is being reflected!  It is a variety of experiences in one installation.

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