Heather Nicol

Soft Spin

heather-nicol-soft-spin

source: heathernicol

Sometimes referred to as Toronto’s “Crystal Cathedral of Commerce,” the Allen Lambert Galleria bustles with buttoned down office workers and urbanites moving between meeting rooms and water coolers where deals are spun. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, it is a vast cavern of possibility, both exposed to, and also sheltered from, the sky above.

Soft Spin is a public art project which also featured a performance intervention, in the style of “flash mobs”. Colour, texture, movement, and decidedly flirtatious forms invite visitors to look up and embrace the unexpected, highlighting the ever-present potential for encounters with unforeseen pleasure and drama in the day-to-day. From the possibility of feeling miniaturized by the enormity of the installation’s curvaceous hemlines to the play of sunlight through the bursts of spring-time colour, Soft Spin steps away from legers, straight lines, and the black and white. The clean, engineered certainty of corporate grandeur is infused with an immersive dose of the whimsical, the feminine, and the celebratory.

Heather Nicol is an interdisciplinary artist and independent curator based in Toronto. She has created site-specific installations in New York City for Arts Brookfield USA (The Winter Garden), in Toronto for Art Brookfield Canada, (Allen Lambert Galleria) and Nuit Blanche, (Union Station – the Great Hall), as well as Sculpture Centre (New York), the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Hallwalls (Buffalo), Chateau de Courances, (Milly, France), Kunstlerhaus Betanien, (Berlin), among others. Her curatorial projects have often explored site-specific conditions as found in decommissioned, underutilized, repurposed and educational locations, and have fostered opportunities for large groups of artists working across a wide range of disciplines. She received her BFA (honours) from the School of Visual Arts in New York, MA in art education from NYU, and interdisciplinary MFA from OCAD University.
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source: newsartnet
The newly opened Brookfield Place, formerly (and still informally) known as the World Financial Center, has more to offer than luxury shops and a high-end food court: through April 24, visitors can also enjoy Soft Spin, a colorful new site-specific art installation by Toronto-based artist Heather Nicol (see Heather Nicol’s Whimsical Skirt-Sculptures Bring Color, and Song, to Winter Garden Atrium). Check out our interview, above, with the artist.

“We wanted to do something really grand and colorful that would really take up the entire space” Debra Simon, the vice president and art director of Arts Brookfield, which commissioned the project for the occasion of the grand opening, told artnet News.

With six brightly colored flowing skirt-like sculptures hovering in the cavernous Winter Garden Atrium space, above rows of tropical palm trees and a massive marble staircase, Soft Spin certainly fits the bill for grand public art, even amid New York’s busy season (see New York’s 10 Most Beautiful Public Art Shows for Spring). It is a piece that is at once visually and aurally engaging, with a surprising degree of subtlety for all of its roughly 750 yards of fabric.

“As you move about the space, each one has its own voice,” Nicol told artnet News of the suspended, parachute-like forms. She worked with six singers to record the hours-long audio component for the installation, a unique coral arrangement that incorporates Broadway show tunes and is led by the central pink skirt, which Nicol has dubbed “Sarah.”

The speaker system has been calibrated to adjust to the room’s ambient conditions, and Nicol has chosen fabric that looks good in a variety of lighting conditions, so there’s no wrong time to come see Soft Spin.

“I’m really excited about all the different ways that people can come and move through the space and encounter the work,” Nicol exclaimed. “It’s a place of transition; people are walking through.” Hopefully, they will stop and look up.