︎The Gold Divide

The Gold Divide

Photo by Maribeth Macaisa

The Gold Divide
In the courtyard at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
April 16th to April 25th, 2013.
Gold crystal organza fabric, polyester thread, tarp lining,
grommets, galvanized aircraft cable, clamps and thimbles.
57' x 80’

I first installed The Gold Divide at Massachusetts College of Art and Design on April 16th, 2013.

I visualized The Gold Divide as a transparent wall; a large surface representing emotion and energy. The piece was inspired by my experiences studying abroad in Amsterdam, time spent at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and the community at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

It was a cumulation of observations and experiences—like riding my bike through the city of Boston and seeing vast construction netting wrapped around buildings. These large surfaces of material triggered my fascination for creating work at an enormous scale. I reflected on process, on how something is made, and was further intrigued by the challenge and symbolism of independently sewing four hundred yards of fabric on a single industrial sewing machine.  

Sewing at night

I chose the gold crystal organza fabric because its color, lightness, and transparency were reminiscent of being in the sun while riding my bike through Amsterdam. The area was often cloudy or rainy, so when the sun came out, unobstructed, it transformed the city. I felt very alive during those moments.

Sewing in the fibers studio at MassArt

There is a connection in Dutch culture between visual and verbal transparency, and this inspired me to think about windows—connecting interior spaces with the outside world.  I chose to install The Gold Divide in the courtyard at MassArt because the public and private, the outdoor and inside, are both separated and connected by all the surrounding windows on the periphery, allowing multiple perspectives and ways of experiencing the piece.

Photo by Allison Disher

When it came to the physical, practical installation of this work, I had the support, assistance and guidance of my community at MassArt, especially Kelsey Trottier, Howard Larosee, professors Judith Leemann and Ann Wessmann, the Performance and Cloth class, friends from the fibers and film departments, and MassArt facilities.

The scheduled installation date happened to be the day immediately following the Boston Marathon bombings. The piece took on a new dimension I couldn’t have predicted. The Gold Divide provided a stark contrast to the chaos in the city and played a significant part in bringing the community of MassArt together.

The installation moved and existed in the space as a living thing, interacting with the wind and the courtyard; it touched the ground, the walls, the sky, and the people. Suspended between two buildings, it measured fifty-seven feet high and eighty feet long. The movement and sound of the piece, at such a large scale, captivated onlookers.

Photo by Morgan Hale

I am interested in the concept of space and the changes that occur within a space over time. After the first day of install, The Gold Divide naturally ripped in half, thus dividing itself into two large panels. This would later facilitate the work’s transformation into its next iteration.

The Gold Divide at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts.

In 2015, I was invited to participate in the Open Studio Residency at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, ME. This was my first use of The Gold Divide as a repeating performance piece, within the environment. Over the next three years, I would return to re-install the The Gold Divide at Haystack with undergraduate students and alumni from Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Each time the piece was activated in the environment, it captured the exploration of material and its response to wind and light through human collaboration.
Collaborators: Open Studio Residency artists, 2015
Photo by Norah Emily

Collaborators: Mitch Shiles and Trevor King, 2015

Collaborators: MassArt undergraduate students, 2017

Collaborators: MassArt undergraduate students, 2017
Photo by Julia Zell

Collaborators: MassArt alumni, 2018

The Gold Divide at Monson Arts.

It is my goal to finally transform The Gold Divide into a sculptural weaving. In May 2019 I was given the opportunity to participate in a month-long residency at Monson Arts in Monson, ME. During this time I re-imagined and re-experienced The Gold Divide in an interior rather than exterior space. This residency gave me the time and place to start to disassemble and transform the piece.

I completed the process of tearing the fabric by hand; each panel transformed into several strips of fabric. Each bundle of fabric measures the height of the initial installation. I have started the process of weaving the bundles of gold fabric into a linen warp on a floor loom. I chose linen for the main structure of the weaving because it is a strong, natural material that compliments the synthetic gold fabric. I was intrigued by the repetitive process of winding the linen warp, tearing the fabric into strips, wrapping the fabric into separate bundles, setting up the loom, and weaving the fabric.

The Gold Divide has been a huge part of my life and I hope by transforming the piece into a tangible, smaller scale material form, it would allow me to share it with others and create a proper ending.

Copyright 2021 Leah Medin