A public garden & cultural center

Daniel A. Bruce

Make a Wish
Sunroom Project Space | July 3 – August 22, 2010

Daniel A. Bruce’s interactive sculptural installation, Make a Wish, takes inspiration from Wave Hill’s Aquatic Garden. The pool and its flora are re-imagined as a modern coin-operated wishing well replete with Nymphyeae ‘Marliacea Chromotella’ (hardy water lily cultivar) fabricated out of neon. Abandoned tires, collected from the Long Island City area around the artist’s studio, have been repurposed to geometrically construct the well’s perimeter. The neon water lilies function as signage, using the vocabulary of consumerism to mimic the allure of the flower in its natural setting.

Make a Wish utilizes the tradition and folk-lore of the wishing-well to devise an opportunity for viewer interaction. Rather than tossing a coin into the well to request what he calls “the gift of a wish from the Gods” Bruce invites visitors to place a quarter into a coin-operated mechanism. This transaction activates their wish and temporarily illuminates the neon, creating a distinct and startling change in the work’s appearance. By introducing a financial transaction into the viewing process, the artist points to the political and economic complexity inherent in contemporary society’s contradictory relationship with the natural world. Make a Wish is also aligned with what the artist terms a ‘bumpkin aesthetic’—a combination of the awkward and unsophisticated with the ideals of artistic validity. By conjuring both high and low cultural practices, he reinforces elements of ambiguity and heterogeneity in his work. The industrial presence of the piece, and its incongruous context within the Sun Porch, strengthens this logic of dualism.


Make a Wish, 2010

Make a Wish, 2010, used tires, black expanded PVC, coin-operated mechanism, neon, magnetic transformers, GTO wire, electrode caps, plastic mounts with tie wires, glue, 
hardware, light, electricity, quarters, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.

Untitled, installation view, 2010, color photograph, plexiglas, aluminum. 20" x 20". Courtesy of the artist.

Artist Website

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., Milton & Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts. 

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