In March 2012, Randy Walker was the first grantee of the McKnight Project, which is funded by the McKnight Foundation and Forecast Public Art. The McKnight Project grant of $50,000 supports the creation of publicly accessible temporary or permanent artwork in Minnesota by a Minnesota-based mid-career public artist. Projects may be in any form or discipline, including performance, dance, storytelling, photography, film, sculpture, painting, etc. http://forecastpublicart.org/grants-mcknightproj.php.
Walker, in partnership with YouthLink, a drop-in center for homeless youth, is installing a public art sculpture, Filling the Void, that the grant website describes as “a way finder and creative outlet” for the Kulture Klub Collaborative (KKC) http://www.kultureklub.org/about.html. KKC is an independent arts organization that brings together artists and homeless youth in the Twin Cities through multi-disciplinary workshops, open mics, cultural presentations and art outings. Walker’s project, Filling the Void, will consist of a permanent steel framework, a three-dimensional grid, that will act as a loom for a series of temporary fiber installations to be completed collaboratively by Walker and kids from YouthLink. After these initial installations, the framework will be programmed by KKC. Future artists-in-residence will decide, together with the young people involved in the program, how, and in what media, the framework should be used.
“Filling the Void will be an exploration of permanence and impermanence in public art through a collaborative process,” says Walker. “As an artist who works with both durable, long-term materials and more temporal fibrous materials, I will investigate how a work of public art might bridge the gap between the ephermeral installation and a traditionally static, unchanging sculpture. I believe there is a fertile middle ground, where a work of public art might be regenerated, renewed, and recreated periodically in different ways, by different community members, and even different artists,” he adds. “I am interested in how the ‘minimal routine maintenance’ so often invoked in the commissioning of public art might be an opportunity to celebrate a work of art, re-engaging it in the future, rather than the mere preservation of the object.”
It is Walker’s hope that the sculpture will be a permanent framework upon which ever-changing installations will take place, in the same way YouthLink is a permanent fixture for the ever-changing homeless population it serves. “It is a visible, public space that will be claimed and defined by a vibrant and creative population that lacks a space of their own,” Walker says.
The images here are conceptual renderings, showing several possibilities for fiber installations, and potential ways the framework might be engaged using non-fiber media. They also provide insight into a piece of the grant application process, the importance of designing a presentation that enables decision makers to share the artist’s vision.