ABOUT THE ARTIST
Barbara Flanagan is a California artist making Festoons, a series of aluminum wall sculpture, over the course of one year: 2016.
Flanagan received a Masters of Architecture from Yale University, a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Certificat in sculpture from ENSAD (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs) in Paris.
Trained as an architect in the infamous A+A Building (Yale's fortress of art and architecture studios), Flanagan has been working as an independent artist for more than thirty years while designing products and writing books. Chronologically, she's an artist turned architectural designer, turned city planner, turned journalist/author, turned design-builder, turned industrial designer, turned visual artist once again, with much overlap between writing and making things of many sizes. Among those, sold internationally, are The Houseboat Book and her MoMA products.
Flanagan lives and works in downtown Santa Barbara, California. Her prized possessions are two wetsuits for ocean swimming and one pink Vespa.
A Festoon is a wall sculpture made of continuous bands of aluminum worked into wildly filigreed shapes using improvised motions, fast to slow.
The supple metal records the artist’s movements as she loops, curls, coils, twists, bends and pulls the material into sweeping arabesques that flow into dense webs and ripple out again.
Is it a 2-D sculpture or a 3-D drawing?
A Festoon is a dynamic work of art that interacts with a room in unpredictable ways, reflecting colors and bouncing light onto its own shadows. Using positive and negative space, it makes the wall surface part of the piece. A daylit Festoon seen on a deep crimson wall, for example, changes character when moved to a spotlit white wall. Its owner decides how the Festoon should behave.
Clearly, Flanagan loves aluminum. With its uncanny ability to reflect visible light, the silver metal is not only beautiful, but also responsible: durable, corrosion-resistant, and recyclable, too. Few malleable materials endure as long as aluminum.
Festoons start out as American-made aluminum, custom-rolled and slit to become narrow coil (strip) by a New England mill. Thanks to the company, a family-run rolling mill operating since 1915, Flanagan was able to become a non-industrial customer and specify the alloy, temper, gauge, width, edge and finish that give the Festoon’s metal its special abilities.
Flanagan uses two different methods to make Festoons. For the wilder pieces she works vertically, wrangling a single band of aluminum 50 to 100+ feet long. For the tamer pieces, she works horizontally, building flat structural sections, like leaves, then assembling those sections to form larger shapes. For building and assembling, Flanagan uses wire-wrapping, an intricate and ancient craft technique rarely used to join industrial materials. Most Festoons are 4 to 7 feet high and 2 to 4 feet wide
Their light weight makes Festoons easy to mount. On drywall, slim steel T-pins (provided) will fasten Festoons without tools. The pieces can be mounted to all other surfaces using standard techniques. To create the illusion of a large, continuous wall sculpture, multiple Festoons may be mounted edge-to-edge.
Festoons come alive in the light, electric or daylight. In natural light, they change gradually, hour by hour. In artificial lighting, they show contrasts of brilliant reflections and deep shadows. Each illuminated Festoon is transformed by the angle, spread and intensity of the light beams.
Each Festoon wall sculpture is original, unique, and made-by-the-artist. Still, many Festoons can be marshaled to work on a grand scale architecturally and dynamically. They can circle a whole room, span a ceiling, and run down a corridor. Suspended Festoons can screen views or create spaces within a space. For specific commissions, a schematic design phase provides a scaled map or full-size mock-up of Festoon sizes and locations; each of the final Festoons are improvised works that fit into the grand scheme.
Customized anodizing is an option. The electrochemical process increases corrosion resistance for using Festoons outdoors. Also, anodized aluminum can be dyed in a wide range of translucent colors, subtle to bright. The color is not a coating but part of a permanent molecular transformation.
Purchase and more information: Please write to the artist on the CONTACT page.