I've been busy working on something big!
 
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I was selected to participate in the UPROAR public arts festival! The festival showcases the work of 60 selected artists from across the Southeastern United States. The works can be found across Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough and are on display for one month only.
For my submission I created the installation shown below composed of 111 floating iridescent acrylic diamonds. 
Through this email I will describe the in's and out's of fabrication and installation, and tell you how you can help me win $10,000!
 
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You may recall that I'm scheduled to make the art installation shown below at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro this fall. In preparation, I decided to create a full-scale “mock-up” of that installation for this public arts festival.
 
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This mock-up approach is standard in the practice of architecture and allows me to “figure it out” before beginning full-scale fabrication, and address design problems in advance. 
While the above installation is for an indoor space, I love this floating iridescent cloud concept and it's delightful see it interact with wind and sunshine outdoors!
 
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This art installation challenged me to not only figure out the diamonds' hanging mechanism, but also to build a frame to support the suspended elements.
I encountered several hiccups in this design process, mostly revolving around the frame. I used MakerPipe connection parts to join lengths of standard metal electrical conduit to build a support structure.
As I assembled the frame in my driveway, I quickly realized it did not have nearly enough lateral stability. The frame was rickety and unstable, and I needed more cross bracing ASAP!!
 
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I put in an order for more parts immediately, but needed to request a later installation date as I waited for the goods to arrive. Lots of doubts clouded my mind during this time - could I actually pull this off?? 
I was all-in at this point having invested significant time and money into the installation already. I did not sleep well during those days of waiting! 😅
 
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The parts arrived last Monday - PHEW! 
In addition to the added cross bracing, in order to make the metal pipe and connections perform better in tension (and not just compression) I employed electrical tape at the joints. Some parts were slipping out of place without this added safe-guard. 
 
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With a stable frame, I was in business! YESSS
The image below was my “guide” during installation, which took place on Friday. 
 
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Another major design challenge was creating suspended elements which would allow for some movement, but not enough that parts could get tangled in the wind. It took me multiple iterations to land on the combination of parts which make up the successful connection shown below.
 
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I used threaded rods, rod nuts, and aluminum C channels (all readily available at hardware stores) to control the height of the iridescent diamonds.
Shout out to installation artists Abbie Powers and PK for your product recommendations!
 
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I laser-cut the diamond parts at a local Durham makerspace. The diamonds themselves have a potential design flaw which is that the slots which allow the parts to interlock are a little tight - they don't slide in perfectly easy. This was due to an oversight in my test-fit process. (The AC in the maker space wasn't working that day and it was July in the South - HOT!)
A tight fit means potential cracking as the parts naturally expand in the sunshine / heat. I've noticed several parts have a minor distortion which is visible (shown below). I'm hoping this is the extent of the consequence! Fingers crossed!
 
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I woke up on installation day to rain and mud and needed to hose off all of my parts which I left uncovered the night before. Great start to the day.
I packed up the Prius and drove over to Chapel Hill where volunteers awaited me. About one hour into installation, the heavens opened. As soon as the major downpour passed, we continued installing in the rain.
 
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Eventually the sun came out just in time to begin installing the iridescent acrylic diamonds.
 
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My favorite part of the artwork is that reflections dance on nearby surfaces and transform the space around the work so that its unclear where the installation “ends” exactly.
Here's my official written description of this piece, entitled “Vital Cloud”
Iridescence has profound mystical connotations spanning for centuries and across numerous cultures It is associated with healing, protection, hope, vitality, and connection with the divine. Active visualization of iridescence surrounding my body is a healing meditation I've used to recover from a car crash and traumatic brain injury which upended my health, personal life, and career in architecture. This installation is structured to facilitate an unrehearsed dance by nature -- one driven by wind and sunshine. The Vital Cloud hovers over visitors, infusing all who pass under it with energy that is healing and protective.
Vital Cloud is on display in front of the Graduate Hotel on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill until August 12th! Swing by and take a look.
 
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Help me win $10,000!
The people's choice award for this festival is $10k! 😮 Please help me win by voting for my work!
Unfortunately you cannot vote from a distance, you must be on-site and scan the QR code shown above to cast your vote. If you live in the area, please stop by and rate my work 10/10!
Can't make it by? Share this with your friends who live in Chapel Hill or the greater Triangle area! 
Much love to you sweet friends,
Eliza
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