When viewing Mara Morken’s new installation at the 300 Broadway building downtown, you’re struck by the thought that you didn’t realize that something was missing from the high ceilings of the building’s atrium.
The work–commissioned by the Kilbourne Group and made of around 17, 280 acrylic beads, 1080 glass or crystal beads, 8640 paper discs, and endless yards of monofilament lines–is the latest by Morken to be installed in the neighborhood. Morken also created a chalkboard wall work that captured plenty of passerby attention during the renovation of Boerth’s Gallery last spring, a yarn work called Heart Fargo that was later added to the chalkboard wall, and a window display in the Loretta Building a few weeks ago. She now has her sights set on a community fiber arts project, Knit Fargo.
How did you create the piece? What was the inspiration behind it?
It was tremendously tedious work. I had fantastic assistants helping me or I never would have finished creating the pieces in time for the install. Using a needle, I strung the discs and beads onto monofilament line. That involved simply punching through the discs with the needle and allowing it to rest atop a bead. Next, another bead was placed between discs for a little sparkle. The 300 Atrium has very dramatic natural light in the mornings and evenings and I wanted to capitalize on that by using faceted beads to catch the sun.
The inspiration for the scale of the piece was the atrium itself. When I was introduced to the space it was hard to contain my excitement. You have no choice but to go big in a room of that size and height. Anything less than mammoth-sized would be lost. I really love working on a ridiculous scale and rarely have the opportunity.
How long did the piece take to create?
For-freaking-ever! Because of the precision needed and delicacy of the paper it took well over a hundred labor hours to create the strands for the piece. The installation process was pretty intense as well– and it took place 18 feet in the air. I spent four hours creating a grid on which to hang the pieces. From there it took one 12 hour day and another eight hour day to hang and adjust it all. My shoulders were killing me from having my arms over my head for so long.
It looks like you’ve been having a lot of fun creating these installations. Any ideas for your next one?
I have been having a blast. Seriously, just such a great time with these projects. The next thing officially on the books is a community fiber arts project. I’ve gathered a bunch of volunteer fiber art talents to help cover the lampposts of downtown with colorful sleeves this fall. I’ve got people knitting, crocheting, felting, quilting, weaving, beading and knitting. I’m really excited about Knit Fargo because the people involved are so varied. We have people in their 80s and eight year olds, men and women, people new to the fiber arts, and experts. I also like that it ties in to the culture and history of the area. From Native beadwork to Norwegian sweaters, this kind of wholesome and practical creativity is a part of Fargo.