An interwoven community: Craig Walsh and Hiromi Tango’s ‘Woven Spaces’ creates a healing hub in Breckenridge
BRECKENRIDGE — Art and science are often seen as polar opposites. But Australia-based artists Craig Walsh and Hiromi Tango hope their latest work can bridge the perceived gap — especially on a local scale. Partners in both life and art, the two have brought “Woven Spaces,” a collection of four interconnected works, to Breckenridge. Tango is passionate about neuroscience and incorporates much of what she reads in scientific journals in her textile artworks.
She met Walsh in Tokyo while coordinating the Australia artist residency program at her university. She was moved by his work with projections, proposed to him and relocated to Australia when she was 22. They collaborate often but limit themselves to two major projects a year, including “Woven Spaces,” which touches on mental health in today’s society.
This exhibit was designed in partnership with local mental health organizations like Building Hope Summit County, Summit Community Care Clinic and Mind Springs Health, and it features various workshops like yoga and a chance to contribute to Walsh and Tango’s works. Tango knows she isn’t a health care professional. Yet that isn’t stopping her from trying to do good in the world and heal people.
“There’s a difference between ‘cure’ and ‘heal,’” Tango said. “’Cure’ is to recover, but ‘heal’ is not necessarily to recover. We may not cure whatever physical illness or mental illness, but collectively, if we aim for a healing journey, it is definitely transformative.”
Come next week, likely the first portion of the installation seen by the public will be a series of sprawling cables outside of the Old Masonic Hall. Called “Brain Flowers,” the work is a commentary on culture’s connection in the digital world with an animation of a human brain overlaid on obsolete cellphone and laptop chargers and other wires.
Tango and Walsh recognize that technology is vital, but they ask attendees to examine the dependency and how it might sacrifice more fulfilling moments.
“Woven Spaces” is a site-specific exhibit that grows with community participation. People can bring old, washed items of clothing and help create the artwork on the following days:
- 1-8 p.m. Jan. 16-17
- 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 18-19
- 1-8 p.m. Jan. 21-22
“It’s a very strange time that we’re in, don’t you think?” Tango said. “The speed of life is getting faster with more efficient communication, but we don’t feel fully loving without the human energy, the electricity we have. When we touch each other, it warms the temperature of the body.”
To bolster that intimate connection, inside the gallery is a calming space known as the “Healing Garden.” There people can see natural elements such as flowers native to Colorado made out of strips of old, washed clothing donated by the Family & Intercultural Resource Center along with individual residents. The columbines, Indian paintbrush, daisies and lupine have restorative properties, Tango said, and are purposefully matched with pastels like green, pink and yellow that are known to have a healthy psychological effect.
“Color coordination is really good for wellness,” said Tango, who calls herself a Chinese herbalist or acupuncturist using color to relieve pressure. “It really helps to cleanse the mind.”
Tango isn’t looking for any particular type of textile for the garden, but she wishes people to donate personal items. That way their own memories and emotions become tied to “Woven Spaces.”
“We like to give the projects to locals for the purposing of community building,” Tango said. “The outcome has yet to be discovered. No one really knows what it is going to be, and that is our aim. … The less we say or direct, it becomes the local’s projects and less ours.”
What: “Woven Spaces” by Craig Walsh and Hiromi Tango
When: The outdoor projections of “Home” can be seen from Jan. 17-26. The rest of “Woven Spaces” opens with a reception from 5:30-8 p.m. and an artist talk at 6:30 Jan. 23. The exhibit runs through May 10.
Where: Gallery@OMH, Old Masonic Hall, 136 S. Main St., and the Fuqua Livery Stable, 111 Washington Ave., Breckenridge.
Cost: Free. Visit breckcreate.org for a complete schedule of workshops and related events.
A subset of the garden is “Healing Circles,” a participatory piece that has guests drawing circles within circles to be placed on windows throughout the gallery. Tango said circles are a recurring theme in healing across cultures. It is an extension of her repetitious wrapping of textiles around objects that she hopes has a soothing effect on the brain.
“That compulsion calms us down and has a similar effect to yoga or meditations,” Tango said. “I wondered how I could translate this repetitious movement into a two-dimensional drawing. … It’s the matter of filling the circles with very small circles.”
Average residents and visitors will make a large portion of “Healing Garden” and “Healing Circles,” so Tango sees herself as a supportive gardener planting a seed to grow into something more beautiful than its humble beginnings. If Tango was new to these projects or to Breckenridge, she might have some hesitations about leaving the work in the care of strangers, but she doesn’t.
“Why should I worry?” Tango said. “I’m a middle-aged mom of two young children. I might worry about teenagers because adolescence is a challenging time. If I treat my job as putting a seed and leave the community and each season the seed is not taken care of, I would worry. But in this specific community, trust is already built and great care has been demonstrated. … I feel a healthy, hopeful future in this community.”
Walsh’s main piece in “Woven Spaces” is an hourlong video that combines clips of about 80 people discussing what the idea of home means to them. Most of Walsh’s interviewees are from Australia, but people from Korea and about 25 from Summit County also will appear. “Home” therefore has a universal and local feel by using subjects from different backgrounds and countries.
“We find when individuals candidly express their ideas and emotions of home, it instills that question within the community itself, the viewer,” Walsh said. “It extends the conversation into the broader community and discussion around home, sense of place, connection.”
The video can be seen both inside the gallery on a collaged screen of fabric and projected on the exterior of the Fuqua Livery Stable. The nonnarrative loop will be offset so that one can see a portion inside and likely see a different segment once they exit, creating an illusion of a continuous conversation.
While “Home” has been seen at other exhibitions elsewhere in the world, this will be site-specific not only because of locals’ contributions but also because the wood of the stable will add to the piece.
“That’s the great thing about projection: It automatically includes the environment it exists in as part of the dialogue,” Walsh said.
Though the outdoor projection is planned to end when the pair leave at the end of the month, it still will be viewable upstairs in the gallery until the exhibit closes in May. Along with the works transforming via participation, they want “Woven Spaces” to become a hub that carries on the message of using art for wellness.
“Some community members may not realize how important arts are for us,” Tango said. “Lots of people might enjoy skiing but not necessarily art. I really personally believe that if you become friends with the arts, creative writing or music or whatever, you are fine.
“I would just like each person to develop a trusting relationship with arts engagement. I want everyone to have a close relationship with art. It can be ceramic, it can be drawing — we don’t know — but something will talk to you.”
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