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© 2019 by Hilary Pfeifer. 

Cumulate

Indianapolis Art Center, 2003
Velvet da Vinci Gallery, 2004
Oregon College of Art and Craft, 2004

Each of the sixteen clouds in this installation is named for a mood. They “floated” in from the entrance of the Indianapolis Art Center, leading the viewer back into the gallery space. It was a treat to be able to work with this beautiful building, designed by architect Michael Graves in the late 90’s.

“Cumulate” is about the moods that move in and out of my psyche, like big cumulus clouds in a summer sky.

An inspiration for this show was the emotional chemistry of the human brain. It fascinates me how my brain can tell us we feel sad one day, and then have the capability to feel completely elated the next. Clouds are an apt metaphor for emotions because both can take on so many different forms, and change so quickly. They may be thick or thin, have well defined edges or be very diffuse, appear hairlike, cellular, towering, or in sheets, and be associated with fair weather or precipitation.

Clouds have always been an important icon for me, perhaps because I have spent most of my life living in Oregon.

In my sculptural work, I do not literally render plant, animal, or everyday objects, but specific references can be discovered there: one might look like an ear, another a flower bud, a toy, a bug, or a piece of fruit. Each person might see something completely different in the very same sculpture, just as one might in a cloud. I decided to integrate my visual abstractions with the childhood game where one figures out what shapes they see in the real cumulus clouds.

In addition to three gallery spaces, the Indianapolis Art Center hosts a library and over six different art studios that teach classes for all age groups. I have always loved the fact that my work is accessible to viewers of all ages and wanted to use this opportunity to engage the many children who also use that building. A small table with colorful postcards invited the kids to tell me what shapes they saw in my clouds. I promised to mail them a color postcard of my work in return.