Art Installation Is So Large, It Snakes Outside Vt. Gallery

A contemporary artist’s work is grabbing attention both inside and outside the BCA Center

The installation of a captivating new art project in downtown Burlington, Vermont turned heads Wednesday and kept cell phone cameras busy.

“I’m looking for Spider-Man,” one spectator said as he craned his neck up toward the BCA Center on the Church Street Marketplace.

For much of the day, people on the marketplace checked out the work of Philadelphia artist Crystal Wagner, as she affixed her creations to the front of the main gallery of Burlington City Arts.

BCA is a city department and operates a free gallery for visitors on the marketplace.

“I take synthetic materials, and I grow them into natural forms and structures,” Wagner explained. “It gives the building a new sense of life.”

Wagner’s massive installation, which appears to creep from the outdoors inside, is called “Traverse.”

“There’s something isolated about a gallery,” the artist observed. “Not everybody walks into one. But when you have something growing on the outside of a building, you’re interacting with everyone—you can’t help it.”

Wagner’s large work is specific to Burlington, with chicken wire, recycled birthday party tablecloths, and bright parachute material shaped into forms that seem familiar from nature–perhaps resembling a coral reef, a grove of exotic trees, or a diagram of the nervous system.

“I saw socks,” spectator Lewis Love said of the work.

“What’s that movie? ‘Scream,’” another man on Church Street said. “I see the ‘Scream’ mask somewhere in there.”

“It just looks like a bunch of abstract art,” said 8-year-old Owen Cammett.

Curator Heather Ferrell of Burlington City Arts said she hopes the curiosity factor will really have people moving through the whole project–underneath it, all around it, peering inside its crevices—to have an immersive experience.

“So much about art and the creative practice is exploration,” Ferrell told necn.

Wagner said she’s hoping to activate people’s imaginations and attract new patrons to contemporary art.

“If I can evoke any sense of wonder in any human being, I feel like we’re moving forward as a culture,” the artist said.

“Traverse” opens Friday evening, June 29, and will be on view at the BCA Center through October 7. Admission is free.

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