Gestalt Installation

This is the post excerpt.

This blog documents the development of my installation Gestalt for the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum in Savannah, GA.

I create sculptures, drawings and site-specific installations exploring the form and metaphor of the ship.  My website www.chrisnitsche.com details my work over the years.

In May 2015 Tony Pizzo, Director of the museum and Curator Wendy Melton viewed my installation exhibition Red Indigo at the Indigo Sky Community Gallery in Savannah:

red indigo 054

We discussed creating an outdoor installation in the Ships of the Sea garden space.

A section of the brick walkway was chosen:

North Garden Shots 012
North Brick Walk

Summer 2015 I surveyed the site:

Ships of the Sea 001
8′ vertical rods mark the intended height of the installation
Ships of the Sea 013
The ground tape shows the intended layout

August 2015 I developed preliminary drawings and presented them to the museum board, along with a budget for building this work titled Gestalt:

Prelim_Ships of Sea Bow
Bow view
Prelim_Ships of Sea Stern
Stern view

The installation will be 75 feet long, 8 feet high.  There are designed breaks in the hull to allow visitors to walk through the work.

The board approved the project.

2015-2016, I drew developed concept drawings to clarify my vision for the installation:IMG_2269





I used Rhino 3D software to create construction plan info: Frame1

Construction dimensions for the bow

Rhino was instrumental in further visualizing the work:

Port side view showing installation in the site
Stern view from above
Interior view

I started building the long walls making up the port and starboard sides.  You will notice some lengths of lumber are painted.  These components are re-purposed from previous installations.  I ended up using most of my previous stock in the construction of Gestalt.  I had to purchase plenty of new 2 x 2’s for this installation due to its scale:IMG_2495

After the long sides, I started on the bow and stern sections:IMG_2500

Bow frames built, then clamped together
Another view of the bow
Bow section bolted together with ceiling and floor supports

Building the stern section:IMG_2519

Stern structure complete

Painting the newer lumber frames with diluted exterior latex.  This is to settle down the tone of new wood to match the re-purposed lumber cladding the sides and ceiling, along with a level of waterproofing:IMG_2524








Sealing painted floor supports with Thompson’s Water Seal:IMG_2531

Painting and drilling the ceiling supports:IMG_2534

This is a portion of the re-purposed lumber I acquired from The Southern Pine Company.  I scraped and wire-brushed each board, and pulled nails.  A bundle of ceiling supports are sitting on top:IMG_2537

July 26, I had a final meeting with the museum staff to go over the logistics of delivering installation material and beginning the setup.  I move in on Friday to begin on-site work.IMG_0591

Packing up installation frames and material with daughter Sophie’s help:IMG_2538

Friday July 29, the material at the museum.  Special thanks to John, Bobby, Tony and Sophie for the move-in:  IMG_2541

After measuring placement and alignment for the installation, Sophie and I start putting the frames together at the bow:  IMG_2543

The temperature reaches the upper 90’s by noon, so we take a few hours off during the midday heat and returned late to continue working.  This is the end of the first day building: IMG_2544

Saturday, July 30, Alisa Salaki, Sophie and I start early AM to beat the heat as long as possible.  We got this far by mid-morning:  IMG_2546

My wife Melanie stopped in to help.  By mid day we completed the framework:

This view shows the framed openings
Inside looking toward the stern
Exterior stern view


Lexi Narduzi, a former student from SCAD who greatly assisted in building my installation at the Spartanburg Art Museum in fall 2014 came to town to help with this build out: IMG_2565

Sophie was a great help cutting lumber and positioning material for Lexi and me: IMG_2567

This is the end of August 1 building.  We established a level with boards attached at the 5 foot height, then worked our way down, leveling each piece of lumber and spacing most of the board rows 1/2 inch apart.  We concentrated on the bow, then worked our way to the sides:

I first did this kind of horizontal spacing in my installation at the Indigo Sky Community Gallery

A sudden rain storm with high wind blew in during the afternoon, breaking some of the ceiling supports and damaging some frames.  I spent a long night building new supports.  Lexi and I worked the beginning of August 2 reinforcing the structure.

August 2, after repairs were complete, Lexi, Sophie and I worked primarily on the stern section (all those small boards!  Yikes!!):  IMG_2568

We continued working on the port and starboard sides:  IMG_2571   IMG_2569

End of the day: IMG_2576 IMG_2578

August 3, once the 5 feet and down was complete all around, Lexi and I started working up, beginning with the bow, then working our way down the sides: IMG_2580 IMG_2582 IMG_2581 IMG_2583

August 4, we continued building up the sides, then on to the stern.  Continued high temperatures and afternoon pop-up storms interrupted our work over the last couple of days:   IMG_2584 IMG_2589 IMG_2588 IMG_2585

August 5, last day with Lexi’s help, Once the walls were complete, we moved on to the roof decking above:  IMG_2590

Lexi on da roof!   IMG_0611

IMG_2591  IMG_2595

Saturday, August 6, Alisa assisted in working further on the roof deck: IMG_2596

August 7, I completed the roof decking, making construction adjustments until I was satisfied with the overall look:  IMG_2597

Melanie stopped in to assist me in laying out the flooring:   IMG_2599  IMG_2598

August 8, I completed the main flooring.  The edge work and entry ways to the installation will be the next build day: IMG_2601

August 9, took a well deserved day off.  August 10, I completed the edging for the floor:  IMG_2603

I then worked on the starboard wall gaps, in-filling some lumber.  There is no room to walk on that exterior side of the installation.  This added lumber is in keeping with the aesthetic openness of the work, while maintaining a safety barrier: IMG_2604 IMG_2602

August 11 and 12, I worked around the structure, adding and adjusting lumber until I considered the work finished.  These are final images of the installation.  Come on out and enjoy: IMG_2630 IMG_2640 IMG_2636 IMG_2644

Here is the link to the article by Kayla Goggin on the installation in the online Connect Savannah:   http://www. connectsavannah.com/savannah/ saltwater-gestalt/Content?oid= 3683052

This link is to the article by Kristopher Monroe in the online Savannah Morning News:  http://www.dosavannah.com/article/wed-08242016-0040/large-scale-installation-gestalt-opens-ships-sea

The print editions have coverage of the exhibition.

These are images from the opening reception, supplied by Jeff Whipple: WP_20160826_015 WP_20160826_010 WP_20160826_027 WP_20160826_022 WP_20160826_038 WP_20160826_032

Savannah television news coverage: http://www.wtoc.com/story/32852611/special-sculpture-by-scad-professor-for-50th-anniversary-of-ships-of-the-sea-maritime-museum