Thursday, July 24, 2014

We Are The Parthenon

Ancient Greece meets moving truck outside Nashville Parthenon
Hello Again, Susan O'Malley here.

The first time I visited the Parthenon at Centennial Park I was floored - a building with the same specs as the Greek Parthenon! A gorgeous gilded Athena by local Nashville artist Alan LeQuire that took my breath away. I wondered how this replica building has shaped Nashville's identity as the sister city to Athens. I also thought about what it means to bring to life this structure that was built and destroyed hundreds of years ago in a distant land. So I spent a good amount of time taking in the building during my visit.

The first time I saw the Nashville Parthenon. You may not feel it in this photo but I assure you It was exciting.
If you are a tourist in Nashville, you will most certainly visit the Parthenon. If you are Nashville resident, you have probably come to the Parthenon or Centennial Park to hangout in the shade, walk along its paths or play on its field.

Artist and Nashville resident Kayla Saito stretches her arms as wide as the Parthenon.
It's tricky to try to find new ways to look at a popular building and park like this. But with the help of local student and artist Kayla Saito, we set out to explore the Parthenon as research for Your Body is the Architecture, the project commissioned for the Parthenon's upcoming FLEX IT! exhibition.

Here are a few things we did and observed.

How to imprint yourself on the Parthenon:

Nashville Shadows from Susan O'Malley on Vimeo.

How to reach your arms as wide as the Parthenon:

Nashville Arms from Susan O'Malley on Vimeo.

What are your observations of the Parthenon? How does your body relate to this building?

In my next post, I'll share some more how-to videos as well as the update for the sign installation. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Greetings from Becky & Bryan

Hi! Our names are Becky Heavner and Bryan Leister. We are what might be called a cross-functional art team. Bryan and I make augmented reality sculptures. I focus on developing the sculptures and Bryan animates and codes the experience. Our process is to pass the concept back and forth, moving it forward like a soccer ball in a game. Software developers call this agile development. The last augmented reality sculpture we worked on together was called, "Interference." The sculpture was inspired by a pond that I wasn't allowed to swim in (the forbidden pond)–and a pond we installed in our backyard in Virginia. On a summer night, I would hear frogs chirping and run out with a flashlight to find them. The sculpture was made by forming paper pulp over a 6 foot diameter soccer ball. After it was dry, we peeled it off. I call it a paper skin, but to some people it looks like stone, or a thin piece of earth. Bryan projected animated images of frogs onto the skin. In the gallery setting, people could interact with this piece by pointing modified flashlights at the projection. A sensor responds to the infrared light filters in the flashlight and the frogs swim towards the flashlight. When too many people interact with the frogs, they become agitated. Some people have experienced empathy for the animations, which I find really interesting!

Traversal installation at Walker Fine Art in Denver, Colorado, Spring 2014. Paper sculpture, two channel sound, sensors and interactive projection.

Interactive projected frogs on a paper sculpture, as part of the Traversal installation.

Our installation for the Parthenon is a mobile augmented reality game called Pygmalion's Challenge. In June, we had the help of nine volunteers who installed the markers for our game. If you walk around the grounds, you will see the markers. They are aluminum square pieces with animal-shapes cut from each center. They are angled and set in the earth with plants growing in and around them. When we have the game ready for you to play, we will announce it on the blog, that way, you can download the free app from the Apple store before you come to the museum. Players can use an iPhone or Android device to point at the markers to trigger the game. The game is based on the treasure of the Delian League, a fifth century association of Greek city-states.  

Butterfly Marker for augmented reality game Pygmalion's Challenge, FLEX IT! at the Parthenon Museum, 2014.

The main goal of our game is to unlock the central treasure. Players must move in and around the grounds between sculptural markers and the treasury located in the back of the Parthenon to collect coins. Once a deposit has been made, players return to the markers to release colorful animated characters from the sculptures.  Players will have the opportunity to pose with the virtual characters and share photos with friends on social media. We hope you come out to play. It is designed for kids, but I hope all ages will play. Stay tuned for updates!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Intro to Public Doors and Windows

Public Doors and Windows is a collaborative artist team made up of Harrell Fletcher, Molly Sherman, and Nolan Calisch. They are based in Portland, Oregon. Together they work to create participatory and site-specific projects that engage with and include local people and the broader public.

Drawing inspiration from small-scale farming and the community supported agriculture (CSA) model, PD&W bring similar elements into their artistic practice, creating work that values collaboration, reciprocal relationships, and a sense of investment with the people and places where they work.

Currently the collaboration is involved in ongoing projects with the Matisse Museum in Le Cateau-Cambr├ęsis, France, the Institute of the Arts and Sciences at the University of California Santa Cruz, the Parthenon Museum of Art in Nashville, Tennessee, and the Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon. In 2013 they published A Children’s Book of Farming in Le Cateau-Cambr├ęsis with One Star Press as part of the Le Nouveau Festival at the Pompidou Center in Paris.

To a Lifetime of Meaningful Encounters Exhibition at the Matisse Museum
in Le Cateau, France July 2014-September 2014

A participatory walking tour, part of A Collective Museum
commissioned by the UC Santa Cruz Institute of Arts and Sciences. 

The One Mile Loop

The One Mile Loop, a project for FLEX IT! at the Parthenon Museum. 

Our project The One Mile Loop is a series of public signs and musical performances that respond to the routine exercise habits of runners and walkers who use the "one mile loop" around Centennial Park and the Parthenon Museum.

We will replicate a series of six public historical markers, but instead of containing historical information, the new markers will share information about the current lives, exercise habits, and musical preferences of six Nashville citizens who regularly use the park. These personalized markers will be installed incrementally around the one mile loop pathway for the duration of the Flex-It show. 

We will also organize a one day musical event on a weekend in early September where six local bands, of differing musical genres, will play a set of songs selected by the six runners and walkers. A musical performance will take place at each of the six marker sites around the loop, enabling the general public to experience a continual live musical experience as they make their way around the path. 

We will work with the Musical Arts Center in Centennial Park to select several of the the participating bands for the event. 

A playlist of the reinterpreted songs will be made available on the Flex-it blog as a free download.

The Highlander Spring 

The Highlander Spring, a project for  FLEX IT! at the Parthenon Museum. 

Highlander Folk School was an adult education center founded in 1932 that brought together many labor and civil rights activists including Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, and Pete Seeger. The original site of Highlander was located near Monteagle, Tennessee and included a spring fed pond which was made by Highlander participants. On September 2, 1957, Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech at Highlander called “A Look to the Future.” During this Labor Day event, people took part in many integrated cultural activities including dancing, dining, swimming in the pond, and drinking from the spring. In his speech, King stated: 

“I have been asked to speak from the subject: “A Look to the Future.” In order to look to the future, it is often necessary to get a clear picture of the past. In order to know where we are going, it is often necessary to see from whence we have come.”1

We would like to collect 25 gallons of the spring water from the original Highlander site and make it available to museum goers through a water dispenser that is set up in the Flex-it gallery. Alongside the water dispenser will be at stack of newspapers we create that provide information about the pond, Highlander and it’s cultural and recreational activities. Museum goers will be invited to taste the spring water that Myles Horton, Martin Luther King Jr, and Rosa Parks would have consumed and reflect on Highlander’s influence on the the social and cultural history of Tennessee. 

We imagine the water dispenser would be sectioned off from the rest of the exhibition and designated as the only area for drinking the water in the museum. This area would include a recycling bin for the used paper cups and markers on the floor or museum partitions. Once all the water is consumed, the empty dispenser will stay in place until the end of the show. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hiya Nashville!

Artist in residence, Moira Williams,
and Parthenon curator, Susan Shockley,
pretending to be columns
Hiya Nashville! My name is Moira Williams and I am an artist in residence for the upcoming FLEX IT! My Body My Temple exhibition at the Parthenon Museum in September. My art practice is a combination of community organizing, research and movement. I create participatory works that bring people together and make explicit the complexity of community and the environment that surrounds us. My project for Nashville underlines two communities that constantly share the same environment and are completely unaware of each other: people and wild yeast. Yep, wild yeast and us! 

By walking throughout the Centennial Park and the Parthenon Museum, I will collect Nashville's enigmatic wild yeast. Once captured, I will create a sourdough sponge to nurture and share with Nashville for community baking. Some of the wild yeast will be dried for more sharing and baking.

I harvest the wild yeast by going for a walk with a bowl of water. Yeast is literally all around us, so as I move through an open space they land in the bowl and come to rest in the water. Then all I need to do is nurture them by making sure they have food and are kept in a warm, comfortable place. I like to provide sustenance from the place they originate, like wild berries that I collect while on my yeast harvesting walks, and organic oat flour.  

Sourdough starter of wild yeast I harvested
and fed mulberries.
Sooo, ya wanna get to cooking with that wild Nashville yeast? No worries, we are building an adobe oven resembling the Parthenon Museum! The oven will be a place for community baking and workshops. We will bake together and discuss healthy, whole grain and handmade food. One-of-a -kind Nashville Sourdough pizza anyone? Please contact me if you are interested in leading a healthy eating and baking workshop OR if you want to walk with me while I collect Nashville's wild yeast:

Thank you Nashville! I’ve been having a terrific time learning about Nashville’s community by walking and talking with her people. I have gotten to know a little bit by stopping to chat with folks, asking about historical plaques and their shapes (What shape would you be if you were a historical plaque?), sharing in a community meal at West End Methodist Church, picking mulberries, feeling Nashville’s summer air sing and looking up to star gaze.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hello, this is Momo!

Hello, I am Leung Mee-ping; people call me Momo. I am an artist based in Hong Kong. I will be coming to Nashville in late August for an installation at the Parthenon Museum. This will be my first visit to Nashville. One of my students in HK, who is from Nashville, told me “You’ll love the city.” And I believe him.

When I saw the call for entries for this exhibition, I admired the curatorial concept which intends to explore health issues through an enlightening series of participatory works. In the contemporary art scene, this theme is rare, at least in HK.

I am interested in creating work related to daily life by collecting various objects or images with memories. Examples include used tea bags, mail boxes, air sickness bags, human hair, objects from the neighborhood, etc. Most of my works are community-based in various mediums. Usually, it takes me quite a long time to complete a work as I do extensive background research and collecting. You can find other examples of my work at

Elsewhere. 1991-2014. Mixed-media. 20,000 Chinese tea bags sewn together by hand.

Memorize the Future as shown at Hair Dialogue, Hong Kong Museum of Arts, 2006.

Daily. 2009. 2,000 glass bricks filled with objects collected from local residents. Prince Boulevard, Chiayi, Taiwan.

Expected Departure. 2007-2012. Installation of light boxes of X-rayed travel sickness bags.

The project I am creating for the Parthenon Museum, Chronicle, is an installation work and I need assistance from the Nashville community to collect a few hundred shortcut, life guide books, such as:


All the guidebooks collected will be displayed on a shelf in the exhibition gallery, two local senior citizens will sit on either end of shelf; visitors will be able to chat with them about their lives and experiences while looking through the shortcut guidebooks. This work aims to explore the dialectics between speed and desire.

I would like locals to donate guidebooks to me via the Parthenon Museum. Please contact curator Susan Shockley or Parthenon summer intern Blake Schreiner with your book donations.

If any local senior citizens are interested in participating in the project (sitting in the Parthenon gallery and sharing their stories and experiences with visitors) please contact me:

As I work on this project all the way from HK I will be posting the latest news here on the FLEX IT! blog. Thanks for reading. Momo.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hello, Nashville. Nice to Meet you

Hello, Nashville! I’m Susan O’Malley, an artist based in Berkeley, California. Thank you (actually, “thanks ya’ll”) for being so nice to me during my residency at the Parthenon Museum for the FLEX IT! My Body My Temple exhibition. I’ve loved visiting your city.

Inspirational Signs (2012), billboard installation, Torun, Poland
I create work to connect with others. I’ve given pep talks in parking lots, asked for advice from strangers, distributed flyers in neighborhood mailboxes, and installed inspirational signs in public spaces.  All this in the name of art.

Mantras For the Urban Dweller, 2013, Installation at Muni Station, San Francisco, CA

For interactive and collaborative projects like the Pep Talk Squad (2005-ongoing), the conversation with others is the artwork. Left to right: Christina Amini and Susan O'Malley
I am interested in shifting familiar exchanges into experiences that allow for a space of possibility. I create projects in order to feel connected to my self and others, and hopefully, if something is going right, the work will provide insight as we grapple with the complexity of our internal and external worlds.

For Community Advice (2013), the back and forth with others served as the material to create the work. I asked people: What advice would you give your 8-year-old self? What advice would you give your 80-year-old self? I used the responses to create a series of letterpress posters that were hung in the community. 

For the Parthenon, I’m creating a series of signs that will be installed in Centennial Park around the perimeter of the Parthenon. My hope is the signs will invite you to engage with the building in a new way, or maybe even reframe how you already see the Parthenon (more soon on this project in a future post). Visit here again and I’ll post about my project and process. For now, thanks for reading this far. Your friend, Susan.