“Oculi,” a sculptural pavilion by architecture, art and engineering faculty at Cornell, will move this spring from New York City to Art Omi, a not-for-profit arts center in Ghent, New York.
The pavilion was conceived last year by Aleksandr Mergold, assistant professor of architecture, in collaboration with Maria Park, associate professor of art; Chris Earles, professor of structural engineering; and Scott Hughes, spring 2018 architecture lecturer. Their proposal was selected as a winning project for Figment NYC’s 2018 City of Dreams sustainable art and design competition that is part of a festival on Governors Island each year.
“Oculi” was installed in June 2018 at its original site on Governors Island as a cluster of seven galvanized steel rings, each 18 feet in diameter and raised to a height of eight feet from the ground on steel columns. According to the project description, the name of the work references the circular forms of the massive grain bins – remnants of the American agricultural industry that came from a farm in Ohio. “Oculi” will open in late May at Art Omi’s 120-acre sculpture and architecture park and will incorporate the original structures at the same scale, but in a modified arrangement.
“The new site offers a return to a rural setting and a chance for us to test it on new ground, new terrain and in a new configuration,” Mergold said. “The original bins can be reconstructed again after all of this, as the panels are not modified. And, the current timeframe at Art Omi is ideal because it gives us time to find a sponsoring organization to help us build the “house-in-a-can” prototypes for a sustainable housing project we’ve been working on as a potential next step for the use of the material.”
Glenn Miller and Ben Malone of Miller Tilling are assisting with the construction of “Oculi” at Art Omi, as are master of architecture students Edward Aguilera-Pérez, Molly Ma, Cait McCarthy, Michael Paraszczak, Reuben Posada, Lawson Spencer, Jordan Young, Jeniffer Carmona, Adriana Contarino, Freddo Daneshvaran, Allexxus Farley-Thomas, Jahoon Kwon, Riana Tan, George Tsourounakis and Hyun-Ji Yang.
Art Omi will host an opening event for “Oculi” on May 25 and the pavilion will be part of Art Omi’s architecture and sculpture park for two years. “Oculi” joins 60 other artworks and structures on display, including “Primitive Hut” (2017) and “Evitim” (2018), both collaborative works by Caroline O’Donnell, the Edgar A. Tafel Professor of Architecture; and Martin Miller, assistant professor of the practice in architecture.
Edith Fikes is a design and communications assistant at the College of Architecture, Art and Planning.