This event took place Friday, April 17th at Corning Glass Museum in the New Contemporary Art and Design Wing. The museum is presenting the artwork of various glassmakers within this space. The white walls allow for the focus to be on the artwork. Specifically a piece called Continuous Mile by Liza Lou.
This piece was made in the Republic of South Africa, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal and the United States from 2006 – 2008 and is made out of glass beads, cotton and thread. This piece, despite having a team of Zulu women working on it with the artists, took over a year to make. It is a stacked rope of glass beads that runs a mile long and is made with over 4.5 million black beads.
With this piece, Lou was making a piece about work, a ‘work about work’; her intention was to show the efforts of hard work of many people. It was about finding the meaning in everyday, little things. Liza Lou stated that “The idea was to employ as many people as possible, using the slowest technique…”. She drew out the process for her and the women she worked with. While creating this piece, she created a sense of community amongst the workers.
Sometimes while working on my own things, I am focused on other things I would rather be doing at the time than that specific project. This project might then become a source of irritation and small details would be overlooked in rushing to get the thing done so I can go off and do what my mind is focused on instead. This, obviously, does not produce my best work. Look at this specific piece brought up a feeling of guilt that I do not always show the appreciation or patience with my own projects. Things that do not seem as tedious as stringing together millions of beads.
I thought, if a group of women and an artist can accomplish such a task, with a community driven environment, then I should be able to put more effort into my individual projects. And that, perhaps, I shouldn’t brush aside doing group projects so quickly in favor of wanting to do the piece on my own. Working within a group has its strengths – people are there beside you to work with you along the way. Not only that but it helps bring students together and strengthen bonds, given that everyone is able to put aside differences to accomplish a goal larger than themselves.