Jasper had the pleasure of chatting with Columbia-based artist Thomas Crouch about his new project at Tapp’s Arts Center this month and the Final Act of the project which is opening tonight.
Jasper: Thomas, you installed a large exhibit in the Tapp’s Arts Center at the beginning of the month. What can you tell us about the show?
Thomas: Yes it is called Foundation, Formulation, Failure. It is a working project exploring the physical and conceptual interpretations of a blueprint by a community. I have lined two 46′ walls in the central corridor of Tapps with blueprint paper and have been working on the imagery throughout the month of November. Within this corridor I am building a two dimensional imaginary city. There are also 18 pieces of new and old work in the surrounding alcoves.
Jasper: There are three parts to the exhibit, is that right? Can you explain what each part entails?
Thomas: This exhibit progresses in three Acts.
Act I, Foundation, saw the blueprints represented in their literal sense; the basic 2-D designs from which our civilization is built. The opening on November 5 symbolized the population of this city. The public was invited to ask questions, learn about the project and become part of this community.
Act II, Formulation, is the current act [in place until tonight]. This is where the city evolves over time. On one wall the imagery depicts the structures built to tap the natural resources needed to support a city e.g. dams, power plants, farm land. On the other wall the imagery depicts the municipal structures the community needs to access these resources e.g. grocery stores, retail space, government buildings. Communication with the public as I work on these walls will be, and has been, reflected in this imagery.
Act III, Failure, is the final act. In this act, the blueprint fails. The personification of this failure will be realized by a public deconstruction of the work. On Saturday, November 21 at 6:00, the public is invited to pay $20 and cut out any piece of their “city” they want and take it home. Human sensibilities of personal need and the needs of the community will come into play here. As an individual decides how much and which part of the artwork to take home as their own, they will ultimately be effecting another individual’s interests.
Jasper: Why did you go in that direction?
Thomas: I wanted to utilize this long corridor in a way that would place the public in a new interactive environment. My previous blueprint based exhibit at Tapp’s, Wolves Vs. Baboons, was successful in this manner. After discussion and brainstorming with Tapp’s as to what we could and could not do with the space, we came up with this idea. Also, we have all been affected as a community recently in an unprecedented way. So, that is fresh on our collective conscience I suppose.
Jasper: When will the show be completed and what should arts patrons expect from the finished work?
Thomas: The final act is November 21 and will see the FFF experiment come down. The remaining paintings will remain up until the end of November. I consider this project my most potent and effective to date in regards to the human condition, which is an inherent theme in my work. In my view, these images on blueprint paper that the public chooses to take home will, in a sense, become artifacts of Foundation, Formulation, Failure in its totality.