Yesterday afternoon I did a trial install for one of the crayon drawings in the Jewett Art Gallery at Wellesley College. The gallery is closed over the summer, which gave me the opportunity to install my work into the space; one of the more unusual perks of being the Gallery Director. Doing this trial install was really important; I had mistakenly thought previously that I had a concrete plan for the install at the Davis Museum, but this trial install got me to rethink to create a more fool-proof plan.
My first plan was to put 4 nails through all three sheets of Dura-Lar right into the wall. I punched holes in the Dura-Lar in advance of hanging the piece, but I quickly discovered how impossible it was to lift all three sheets together up onto the wall; the sheets kept slipping, and the large scale of the piece made it incredibly awkward, heavy, and difficult to manage while I was high up on a ladder. While I did eventually get a nail in the wall to hold the three sheets in place temporarily, I saw as I nailed in the other 3 nails that the three sheets were not perfectly aligned. One sheet was just a little too much to the left so that towards the bottom of the piece, the three sheets were not lined up with each other. Another consequence was that I didn’t get the drawing as high up on the wall as I wanted, and the result was that the bottom of the drawing touched the floor instead of being up on the wall. I didn’t take the time to correct the trial install; I knew the more important thing would be to get the distance from the piece and to rethink a better strategy for installation. Granted, I’ll have experienced staff at the Davis Museum to ultimately help with the install, but I wanted to have everything tested and thought through in advance to make things as smooth as possible.
I solicited advice from some of the other studio art faculty here at Wellesley: I talked to Phyllis McGibbon the other day about the possibility of having a thin strip of metal at the top of the piece to bolt the three sheets of Dura-Lar together, and got Carlos Dorrien to take a look at the piece while it was installed in the gallery. Carlos’ first reaction was that the drawing had a strong presence, and that the tall shape of the drawing suggested a door or portal into another world, which I liked very much and hadn’t thought about. He also made a strong connection with printmaking in terms of the way that the sanded surface creates a “burr” for the lithographic crayon to sit on top of.
Then, as I was walking to my car at the end of the day, a perfect, manageable solution came to me: I would hang each layer of Dura-Lar separately, and then nail them each on top of each other separately. In this way, I would be able to line up each layer with the previous one and be sure that they’re perfectly aligned with each other. This will make for many more holes in the drawing, but the nails are so small that they’re barely seen, especially from a distance.
A detail of the side of the drawing. The fact that the drawings are only attached at the top with nails allows the three layers of Dura-Lar to have a little bit of space between them. There is also a very slight shadow behind the drawing on the wall that I’d like to preserve.