Transformit Gorham, ME

Project Details

Fabric 1

Producer: OTHER
Supplier: OTHER

Fabric 2

Producer: Associated Fabrics
Supplier: Associated Fabrics

Engineer Name 1

Engineer Company 1

Design Name
Cynthia Thompson

Design Company

Architect Name

Architect Company

Fabrication Name
Cynthia Thompson

Fabrication Company

Subcontractor Name

Subcontractor Company

Graphics Name
Cynthia Thompson, Rebecca Warde

Graphics Company
Transformit, Mystic Scenic Studios

Project Manager Name
Cynthia Thompson

Project Manager Company

Installation Name
Cynthia Thompson, Chris Geary, Matt Rawdon

Installation Company

Please describe the project specifications

"Aqua Vibrant" is an 85' by 15' fabric sculpture installed in the Academic Commons, an 85-foot long room connecting two classroom buildings, at Lakes Region Community College in Laconia, New Hampshire. Winner of a public art commission from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, "Aqua Vibrant" celebrates and takes inspiration from nearby Lake Winnipesaukee and the rivers and streams of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region.

What was the purpose of this project? What did the client request?

Under the auspices of the program 1% for Art, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts solicited proposals for permanent art installations on the new campus of Lakes Region Community College in Laconia, NH. Two guiding parameters for artists submitting proposals were first, to be mindful of the school’s location and second, create something that reflects the natural environment.

Cynthia Thompson's initial submission to the arts commission consisted of a sketch and a project description: “I propose a ceiling/wall fabric sculpture portraying the essence of water. The college being in the heart of the Lakes Region, water comes to mind as a vital force in the community. The sculpture captures the wild rivers and streams of the Lakes Region. It will undulate across the ceiling above the beams, from the windows to the doorway, and down the wall above the door. My intent is to trigger the energy and vibrancy of the community college with this abstract river that I call "Aqua Vibrant." It is placed in the Academic Commons to inspire students to great achievements in their own communities, whether the Lakes Region or the world.”

What is unique or complex about the project?

In addition to its location-based artistic expression, "Aqua Vibrant" was designed to meet the practical parameters of a commercial installation in a public assembly space. The fabric is durable and fire-retardant to meet architectural standards. The framework is aluminum with custom machined joinery to provide lasting integrity to the installation’s form. Regular cleaning is easy, by blowing dust off the sculpture and, if necessary, it is washable.

While contemplating how to build the piece she envisioned, Cynthia realized that if the fabric were to be printed, she would be limited to fabric ten feet wide, and visible seams would be required. This was not what she had in mind, so she searched for a 15’ wide mesh fabric, and a way to paint it by hand. Cynthia's fabric search led her to ShowTex, in Belgium, a maker of theatrical fabrics. The owners of ShowTex were kind enough to subsidize the purchase of fabric for this public art installation.

Her search for how and where to paint "Aqua Vibrant" led to Mystic Scenic Studios, in Norwood, MA, and to their head scenic painter, Rebecca Warde. Rebecca patiently spent an entire week discussing the project with Cynthia, choosing the correct paint, lofting her scale drawing up to full size, and painting the fabric under Cynthia's direction.

What were the results of the project?

Installed in August of 2016 in time for the 2016-2017 school year, "Aqua Vibrant" enlivens the long hallway and lounge area below. The hand-painted graphics and transparent quality of the mesh naturally evoke the fluid and shimmering essence of New Hampshire’s rivers and streams.

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