Ann Tarantino’s “Water Lab,” an exhibition of her work using water as both medium and subject, will be on display in the Borland Project Space, March 2–6, with a public reception and artist’s talk on Thursday, March 5, 4:30–5:30 p.m.
For the past four weeks, Tarantino, who has joint faculty appointments in the Penn State School of Visual Arts and the Department of Landscape Architecture, has kept daily working hours in the Borland Project Space, developing both a body of studio work as well as a proposal for a new course. Her two- and three-dimensional drawings created in the space during this time make visible the relationship between practice-based and traditional research methods. She has also created an installation of suspended pieces of plate glass, which act as a multi-sided projector to transform the flowing water into colorful projections on the ceiling and walls.
“I began making drawings that pulled inspiration from research for the course. Mornings spent poring through images of ancient aqueducts, human-powered water wheels in Asia, Archimedes screws in the Nile Delta and the water lifting machines of ancient Rome soon led to afternoons spent pondering how to move water myself,” said Tarantino. “Four weeks later, I’ve scrapped the drawings and readings I started with and built a sort of DIY ‘water mover’ of my own. Part homemade video projector, part three-dimensional drawing and part water wheel, it speaks to what drew me to water in the first place: the sense of weightlessness, constant motion and unpredictability of this shape-shifting medium.”
Because of her appointment in the Department of Landscape Architecture, Tarantino works everyday with colleagues whose work addresses worldwide issues of water scarcity, pollution and management.
“As my studio work has progressively moved further from drawing and painting into environmental and outdoor installation, I have become interested in how water has been ‘seen’ over time and how it might be ‘seen’ today. This confluence of interests led me to Borland to investigate how the two might inform one another,” she added.
According to Andy Schulz, associate dean for research in the College of Arts and Architecture, the Borland Project Space is “a site to showcase the vibrant research culture of the college, with the term ‘research’ intended to encompass the full range of practices in which we engage to create new knowledge in our disciplines. The aim of this initiative is to move beyond traditional notions of exhibition, performance and scholarly programming in an effort to reveal the processes and procedures of ‘arts research,’ which are customarily hidden from view.”
The space has provided such an opportunity for Tarantino to actualize her project and receive feedback and engagement from across the college and University.
“Developing an emerging project in the public realm has been at once exciting, frightening and rewarding. In addition to the tangible outcomes, I have learned about my own working process and interests; fielded questions from a huge cross-section of the University and greater communities (students, colleagues, staff, the nighttime cleaning crew, community members, small children and total strangers); and spilled a lot of water on the floor,” said Tarantino.
For more information on the Borland Project Space, visit the website: http://sites.psu.edu/borlandprojectspace/.