What and Why...

Welcome! I decided to start a blog to track the progress of and thinking behind my big new project-- and to provide updates and behind-the-scenes views for my community of friends, family, fellow makers, fans of my work, and other subcategories that also begin with the letter ‘f’. I figure it will be a more casual forum which will also mean you’ll get a window into my sometimes lame humor as well. Consider yourself warned.

I’ve done a LOT of writing about my ‘InTouch’ project so far, much of it in the service of applying for grants to fund it or seeking a venue. I’ve been chewing on ideas and planning for over a year by now, and have to remind myself that although I’ve been living and breathing this thing for a long time, it’s still totally new to most of my network. It seems that my explanation and understanding of what I’m doing keep sharpening as I proceed, so if you stick with me you may note its evolution. But here’s a description of what I’m doing:

'My project is the creation and presentation of hands-on sculptural objects that invite the viewer to touch the art--and to share social experiences with other viewers in real time. My interactive sculptures will be made of highly tactile materials that can stand up to wear and tear, particularly the wool and felt for which I have become known. Audiences for my work tell me about the strong urge to touch and stroke its seductive surface and to confirm with their hands what their eyes tell them about the texture and solidity of the object in front of them. Typically art gallery visitors are forbidden from giving in to the urge to touch. In contrast, my alluring objects are meant to be handled, manipulated, and rearranged by the public. My new body of work is slated for a solo exhibition at the de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University in 2020.

I’m calling this project InTouch, to communicate not only the invitation to physically interact but to focus also on the idea of art as a way to connect people. At exhibition receptions I often invite the viewers hovering near my work to try touching it under my supervision. The ensuing reaction is most often an exclamation of delight and automatic turning to their neighbor to share the experience-- whether that neighbor is a friend or a total stranger. Creating that kind of connection is the reason I make art. Causing people to stop a moment to be present and engaged with the world around them is the gift I can contribute through the work of my hands. Through this interactive, tactile sculpture I aim to provoke curiosity, play, engagement, and connection-- things I find particularly important in our divisive, disconnected, and overly digitized times.

InTouch will include three groupings of multi-component sculptures, each offering levels of physical participation at the viewer’s discretion, from simply viewing the works to moving among them, feeling the sculptures, creatively rearranging the pieces, and inserting themselves in the narrative. Stay tuned for posts about each of the sculptural groupings.

Through the creation and presentation of these sculptures I hope to provide audiences with experiences that fully immerse them in the present moment, cause them to notice and consider the nature of the materials they encounter, take the time to engage as playfully or seriously as they desire, and ultimately connect with their fellow participants.  My intended audience demographics cross ages, genders, physical abilities, cultures, and economic levels; in particular I want to welcome those who wouldn’t typically consider themselves museum-goers. The InTouch project represents a significant scaling up of my professional practice in terms of size, production output, audience reach, project management, utilizing assistants, and, most importantly, cultural engagement.'       

- Stephanie Metz, 9/25/2017