A public garden & cultural center

Gail Biederman

Urban Canopy
Sunroom Project Space | October 20—December 2, 2012

Pictured above:
Urban Canopy, 2012, industrial and handmade felt, cut paper, dimensions variable.
Courtesy of the artist.

Gail Biederman is interested in mapping, topography and patterns of growth, whether organic or artificial. She sees both natural and built environments as having a strange similarity; just as highways and roads expand, vines creep up the sides of old houses. By working with maps, Biederman examines the links between body, personal history and location. The artist often begins with an ordinary street plan of a place where she has lived, or to which she has some other connection, and then reconstructs the map in soft materials like fabric or string. The resulting abstracted form evokes a physical, temporal and emotional link to the site. In her work, the autobiographical and the geographical fuse, and the borders between interior and exterior converge. For her project at Wave Hill, Biederman decided to focus on the Bronx because it holds significance in her family history. Several generations of Biedermans settled in the area around what is now the northern border of the Bronx.

In the Sunroom, Biederman creates a topographical web inspired by the landscape and population density of the Bronx. Urban Canopy is an undulating map of the borough made from industrial and handmade felt. While conducting research on the Bronx, Biederman found statistics that informed her project. For example, the Bronx is the third most heavily populated county in the United States, but even with this density, almost a quarter of the land is green space and parkland—a much greater ratio of green space to square miles than the other four boroughs of New York City. The solid areas of Biederman’s piece are made of industrial felt and correspond to the more inhabited regions of the Bronx, while the borough’s extensive parkland is represented by cut-out sections with edges that dissolve into rough-hewn, handmade felt. Maps of the Bronx often fail to capture this relationship between density and green space. When suspended from the ceiling, the Bronx cityscape is transformed into a vibrant and evocative sculptural installation, interacting with the architecture and natural light of the Sunroom.

Urban Canopy, installation view, 2012, industrial and handmade felt, cut paper, dimensions variable.
Courtesy of the artist.

 

Urban Canopy, installation view, 2012, industrial and handmade felt, cut paper, dimensions variable.
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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