Tracing Thin Air: Artists’ Statement

From Karen Brummund, Allison Grant, and Holland Hopson

Karen Brummund, Tracing Thin Air, photograph. Image courtesy of the artist.

Tracing Thin Air is an exhibition and a one-night outdoor video and sound installation that examines air as a framework for personal and social existence: it’s what we breathe, move through, form community within, and a site of invisible environmental concern.

Artists Karen Brummund, Allison Grant, and Holland Hopson will present individual and collaboratively made artworks that visualize the air near their home in Tuscaloosa, AL, and consider how it’s inhabited by their community. Using hand-applied and digital mark making, video, sound, drawing, the participatory elements, the artworks activate and reimagine a community’s shared space and the air in-between.

To create her dynamic video installation Like a breath but a breath, Karen Brummund invited community members to join her in a plain-air drawing workshop and draw a wall outside Alcove bar. The event was a time of community building and dialogue that celebrates the differences in our perspective. Using these drawings, Brummund has created a site specific video installation of drawings that will overlap and fade in and out. The rhythm of the video will respond to air quality data collected by the artists in the last six months. The video is designed to wrap the facade of Alcove, and the architectural elements will distort the video. The artwork intertwines many perspectives to create one vision of the place while also questioning the limits of perspective. It makes room for what is visible and invisible in the space. By collaborating with Hopson and Grant, the art works to create a conversation on spaces in our neighborhood that go unnoticed but have an incredible impact on our community.

Allison Grant, Tracing Thin Air, photograph. Image courtesy of the artist.

Between Home and Community considers the walls and windows in artist Allison Grant’s home and ways these porous borders both delineate personal space and connect to a surrounding city. In haunting videos, the artist evokes the pleasantries and threats that accompany the free movement of air, and the limits of what can be seen and recorded in a place.

Holland Hopson tracked changes in the color of the sky outside of his studio in preparation for this exhibition. The Average Color of the Sky series treats color as data used to create digital prints and an animation. Holland will also present an immersive sound work at the outdoor installation called Breathing is Singing Quietly to Yourself. The sounds in the work are generated and influenced by Tuscaloosa air quality data that Brummund, Grant and Hopson collected using a pair of PurpleAir sensors. For example, temperature data controls the chirping of virtual crickets, while particles detected in the air give rise to percussive sounds. The sonic gestures support the rhythm and movement in Brummund and Grant’s works. Besides connecting both video works, the sound will function as a literal activation of the air and reminder of the importance of what we can’t see. Across all projects, a sense of movement—through space, through drawing, through sound—will echo the movement of human breath.

Works will be presented at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center from November 4 – 17 and at a one-night outdoor video and sound installation that will be mounted in the space between Alcove bar and Monarch coffee shop on December 2, 2022, with a rain date of February 3, 2023. The project is supported in part by a grant from the Verdant Fund.

Holland Hopson, Tracing Thin Air: Sky Colors. Image courtesy of the artist.

Go here for more information about the exhibition and events.