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Voicing Ideas: The O Project

(January 2008) posted on Fri Jan 11, 2008

An artist literally wraps her idea around a building.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Angela Prues

Nearly 5000 square feet of digitally adorned Tyvek recently came to represent "the voice of the voiceless" in an art installation that wrapped the historic Arlington Arts Center in Virginia. The October opening of artist Rosemary Covey’s The O Project in Arlington, featuring an image of a repetitive white figure with its mouth agape, was Covey’s first foray into wide format. And it would prove to be her print provider’s initial delving into fine art as well.

The O Project idea first dawned on Covey at an arts residency, and began with a simple sketch on transfer paper. Although Covey typically uses wood or handmade Japanese paper as her substrate and her own hands as her tool, she wasn’t sure how to turn her sketch into something tangible-it was too big for wood carving and too incomplete an idea to pursue. Hence, she spent her residency pursuing other ventures, and simply cast aside the drawing. Only later, after her artist husband discovered the transfer-paper image and was intrigued, did Covey decide to again pursue the "voiceless scream" sketch and turn it into something real.

In striving to do so, Covey pursued numerous venues for displaying it. The O Project was projected onto walls, transferred to T-shirts, and even paired with music. Eventually, she submitted her O Project proposal to the Arlington Arts Center.

"I said in my proposal that The O Project can be indoor and outdoor and can wrap the building," says Covey, a statement that aided in her winning a bid for the Arlington Arts Center art installation over nearly 280 other professional artists. As the saying goes, however, "easier said than done." Discovering just how to wrap a building was a totally alien concept for Covey, who had no connections to print providers working in wide format or building wraps.

Exploring the scope

But there was something Covey was familiar with that would become a critical component to the project: DuPont’s Tyvek material. A few years prior, she had found a FedEx envelope made of Tyvek on her desk and eventually began printmaking onto the media.