All About Our New Fountain Installation by Emily Williams-Wheeler
After a year’s worth of work, local artist Emily Williams-Wheeler installed an incredible set of hanging floral sculptures in our Fountain Court. Learn about the process behind the masterpiece in our Q&A with Emily…
Over the past year, our Fountain Court has been made more beautiful than we could have ever imagined by installations of all types hanging from our ceilings. This spring, our Fountain Court is the temporary home to a breathtaking display of hanging 6 x 7-foot sculptures created by local artist, Emily Williams-Wheeler. With her other work at West Acres including the mural in the CaringforKids Playland and the design of Santa’s Whimsical Wonderland set that lives in Center Court during the holiday season, we feel so lucky to have yet another piece of Emily’s amazing talent displayed within our walls.
When we were chatting with Emily, we found it fascinating to hear about the process she used to create artwork of this scale. Read our Q&A with Emily Williams-Wheeler to learn about her inspiration, creation process, and what this project means to her as an artist!
Q: What was your inspiration for this installation?
I have been wanting to create a large 3-D installation for quite some time now, but since the objects are suspended, they had to make some sense when hanging down. Because I knew they were going up in the spring, I wanted to create flowers. These sculptures are loosely based on the blooms of a fuchsia plant.
Q: What was the process of creating the flowers like? How long did it take you?
I worked on this project for a year. I had to take some time over the summer to rest my hands because twisting and weaving the wire was physically demanding. Looking at the sculptures, one might think it’s just paper glued over wire and that’s it. But in fact, each flower is woven with heavy gauge wire and secured with a slightly lighter gauge wire.
Hours and hours were put into the forming of the shapes. After forming the wire shapes, I covered the wire with Korean mulberry paper, then painted all the sculptures. Then, to represent the stamens on the flowers, I purchased felted-wool alpaca balls from Jesse and Dirk at Ten Seven Acres (Galchutt, ND), which I then dyed several bright colors. I am happy with the finished shapes and colors.
Q: What do you hope West Acres visitors get out of viewing this installation?
I hope these sculptures cause one to slow down, stopping long enough to take in all the sculptures as a whole, and then individually. I hope they feel warm thoughts from the bright orange of the flowers and the varied colors of the hand-dyed alpaca wood balls. With all the white outside right now, the orange should be a real warm-up!
Q: How would you describe your artistic style, and how does this installation represent who you are as an artist?
I have always been told I have a whimsical style. I used to hate that because I thought that sounded so unsophisticated and I had worked so hard to gain the respect of peers and patrons. Now I am proud to say that I am definitely known for my whimsy while still being a very serious artist. I am hoping this installation will lead to more 3-D opportunities. Color drives me. I just keep finding new ways to share color.
Q: What does it mean to you to work with West Acres for this project?
Like this and so many other projects I have done at West Acres, it is an absolute honor and privilege to work with such an esteemed institution and with such amazing people. I hope to be able to do other projects with West Acres in the future.
Q: How does this installation compare and contrast with the other art you’ve created for West Acres?
I think this installation fits right in with all my projects that I have done at West Acres. I have been allowed to try some really big things, including the Artist in Residence program, the large mural in the children’s play area, and designing the Santa interactive display. Here’s where the mantra, “Go big or go home,” really works for me!