With new ideas stirring at TEDxSomerville, innovative art displays further stimulate the TEDx talk experience. From public art to a gallery group show, diverse mediums came full force at the community-oriented event, held at Arts at the Armory this past Sunday.
Outside of the TEDxSomerville talk “Creative Economy, Sustainable Community,” attendees came across a levitating sphere within a sphere designed by New American Public Art (NAPA). The geodesic spheres, collectively known as Thought Follows Action, stood in juxtaposition to the idea-sharing going on inside of TEDx, where actions follow thoughts.
“It is easy to get kind of cerebral in these environments, so we wanted to bring the focus back to the body, to movement, to action. The idea of the piece is that actions do not have to follow from thoughts, that actions themselves can inspire thoughts,” said multimedia artist Kawandeep Singh Virdee, one of the four artists involved in the installation. The others include, Dan Sternof Beyer, Joey Asal and Bevan Weissman, who all come from backgrounds in sculpture.
“Our sculpture offered participants the chance to perform an action [spinning the outer sphere] and then observe this action play out as a catalyst for ideas and thoughts [the delayed spin of the inner sphere],” said Weissman.
Interaction is highly valued by NAPA and in public art in general, and this piece becomes truly active when someone spins the outer sphere that launches the inner sphere.
And hey, it was sure fun to do during the one-day debut on Sunday.
“At several moments parents would lift their curious children up to spin the geodesics and at strangely similar moments friends would lift their shorter curious friends for the same reason. These beautiful acts of humanity were the success of the work,” said Beyer.
At a total of 75 pounds, the spheres were constructed out of plywood, tile, steel and rope.
The interior TEDx gallery show also took on an interactive element, since attendees were welcome to take copies of Dave Ortega’s stack of newsprint comics, public persona Yassy Goldie’s “Boston YUO Sox” campaign stickers and Geoff Hargadon’s “Cash for Your Warhol” stickers. I especially liked the contrast between Hargadon’s static posters as the background in front of two hand-welded bikes by Royal H Cycles.
[This photo above is by Patrick Rogers Photography. The other two are by Sara Afzal].
Photographer and multimedia producer Kelly Creedon talked about her documentation of the foreclosure grassroots movement and her multimedia project “We Shall Not Be Moved.” Her photos from the movement were also on display.
“I think that covering this movement in the format of intimate documentary photographs paired with in-depth personal audio narratives allows the audience to connect on a human level with the people impacted by the issue,” said Creedon.
The show was curated by Kim Blodgett with the assistance of Katherine Vetne, who both also showed their art work in the exhibit. “One point I tried to make with the TEDxSomerville exhibition was concerned with physicality. This juxtaposed to the natural mind-space that is TED(x). I saw the exhibition as a collaboration with artists/makers and an opportunity to share their works within the context of the event,” said Blodgett.
As a community, Somerville is second to Manhattan in having the highest number of artists per capita in the U.S., according to Artisan’s Asylum co-founder and president Gui Cavalcanti. So it’s no wonder that numerous artists volunteered their time and work to TEDxSomerville.
“I am so pleased that the goals of sharing the wonder of creativity, curiosity and thoughtful engagement are common among so many outstanding members of a quickly growing community,” said Asal, collaborator on the NAPA spheres.
With art, music closely follows. The folksy indie pop beats of The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library and uplifting drumming of Grooversity & Marcus Santos were a warm switch up from the talks.
TEDx was quite the jam-packed affair—music, art and talks on economic and sustainable wellness all in one day. If you didn’t catch this TED fun, TEDxBoston is happening on June 22.