Rob Ley

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Medium: Sculpture, metals, plastics, mixed media, interactive media

Artist Statement 

One of the main reasons that I am an artist is that I feel art in the public realm has the potential to contribute to the culture of a community and help create places for reflection in the built environment.  These spaces include locations that we typically associate with public space such as parks and plazas, as well as locations that are emerging as new civic spaces.  Utilizing technology as a means of examination, my work offers a lens toward the inherent beauty of naturally-occurring patterns and rhythms. The desire to witness and subsequently be inspired by these natural events and forces, acts as an impetus to create environments that demonstrate a tactile response that echoes human experience.  By engaging the architecture, character and context of the locations in which I work, my practice utilizes texture, light, and motion to provide places for congregation and individual reflection.

My approach to public art is site specific and my preference is to work with the architecture in a way that the art is aware of the place that has been created, while at the same time, can be read as an autonomous element.  Hopefully, in this way, public art is then able to catalyze and make apparent to the viewer, something that may otherwise not be seen or understood.

Last year I completed a large public art piece for Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Over a two year period which included several meetings with hospital staff and patients, I was able to better understand many of the challenges and rewards involved in health care. This large art façade, titled “May/September”, is comprised of 7,000 multi-colored aluminum panels that define a soft, undulating volume drawing on the novelty of lenticular images that move according to the viewer’s position. Without requiring a willful contribution, this piece confronts viewers with a playfully subdued interactive experience in conjunction with an articulated east/west color strategy inspired by the surrounding landscape. The production of this piece required a year long coordination effort amongst an architectural firm, two engineering firms, the organizational structure of a major hospital, as well as a local fabricator and an installer.  I was honored to be able to contribute to the facility and to help shape part of its visual culture.

In addition to each project’s formal distinctions, my work considers the specific budgetary, scheduling, and material considerations unique to each situation.  My approach to creating site-specific installations relies heavily on collaboration. Just as my work is often composed of many pieces working together, I see myself as operating within a larger framework of individuals to produce complicated and multi-layered works of art that become catalysts for revealing the often invisible qualities and phenomena of specific localities. I enjoy the fact that in public art, each site brings with it distinct opportunities. Histories and vernaculars vary, and identifying and demarcating what makes every place interesting and unique is a goal I work toward.